This month is National Facial Protection Month, in which we remind athletes and parents of athletes to wear mouth guards, or mouth protectors, during sports activities to help avoid injuries and trauma to the teeth and mouth. Defense is the best offense when it comes to protecting your teeth during sporting activities!
The ADA, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists observe this month as a time to urge parents, caregivers, coaches, and athletes to wear protective gear during sports activities. Activities such as football, boxing and hockey require mouth guards as impact to the head and mouth is likely, but children and athletes involved in basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, and wrestling should also wear a guard to prevent injuries from any incidental contact.
Mouth guards cushion the blow to the face, minimizing risk of the following kinds of injuries:
- chipped or broken teeth
- fractured crowns or bridges
- lip, cheek and tongue injuries
- root damage to teeth
- fractured jaws
Getting a custom-made mouth guard from your dentist is the best option when it comes to wearing one, but the most important thing is to make sure you wear some kind of mouth guard. Stock mouth guards from drug stores and boil-and-bite from a sporting goods store are still great ways to help prevent mouth injuries. There are also mouth-guard options for student athletes that currently have braces.
Helmets and other facial gear required for some sports are, of course, a necessity when it comes to protecting your face, teeth and head while participating in that sport.
Below are some statistics and facts that we found from various studies regarding mouth protectors and injuries sustained during sports:
- The ADA estimates that one third of all dental injuries are related to sports;
- Mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year;
- Athletes and recreational sports players are 60 percent more likely to sustain an injury if they do not wear a mouth guard;
- Children between the ages of 7 to 11 years old are the most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries;
- A study done on high school athletics shown that 75 percent of injuries to the mouth occurred when the athletes were not wearing a mouth guard or protector.
As mentioned above, it’s becoming well known that mouth guards can actually help to prevent concussions. This is because the guard absorbs shock from an impact, which can help to stabilize the head and neck, and limits movement caused from a direct hit to the jaw. With concussions increasingly becoming more of a concern among athletes — both student and professional — it is imperative that a mouth guard is worn during activities where contact is expected.
We are able to make mouth guards here in-office, and are available for emergency appointments when an unfortunate and unexpected injury happens.
The North Carolina Dental Society Mouth Guard Project. Reviewed information at www.ncdental.org.
McNutt T, Shannon SW Jr, Wright, JT, Feinstein, RA. Oral Trauma in Adolescent Athletes: A Study of Mouth Protectors. Pediatr Dent 1989;11:209-13.