April has been named the National Youth Sports Safety Month. Statistics show dental injuries are the most common injuries sustained during sports, most of which are preventable. As a dentist, and a mother of three, mouth guards are highly recommended for nearly all athletic sports.
According to the Bureau of Health Education, it is estimated that annually, more than 200,000 oral-facial injuries are prevented because of mandatory mouth guard wear in football alone. Because most coaches do not require mouth guards, many parents and children don’t know the benefits, but rather the repercussions of not having one. Below are a few common questions from our patients…
What is a mouth guard? A mouth guard is a flexible appliance worn during sports and other recreational activities to protect teeth and its surrounding soft tissues from any damage. Its purpose is a preventative appliance for broken teeth, lacerated lips, jaw fractures and other trauma to the mouth and neck area.
Who needs a mouth guard? Mouth guards should be used by all ages, old and young! The American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouth guard for 29 sports activities. It’s not restricted to specific sports, but more-so those that have a chance of contact with other players or hard surfaces. These sports could include, but are not limited to, football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, gymnastics and skateboarding.
What are the different types of mouth guards? As a dentist, we recommend a custom-fitted mouth guard. Generic mouth protectors are available at most athletic stores, however many users complain that they are bulky and non-adjustable which defeats its purpose. Custom-fitted protection is made by your dentist to fit each individual’s teeth and provide optimal protection.
Your ideal mouth guard should also:
- Permit speaking and does not restrict breathing
- Stay securely in place during action
- Be comfortable and fitted
- Be durable and tear-resistant
Can my child wear mouth guards with braces? Yes! The chances of damaging the soft tissues around the mouth area are higher when wearing braces. A mouth guard serves as the protective layer between braces, lips and cheeks, preventing lacerations, bruises and the like.
Why do my children need to wear mouth guards? Let’s be realistic, sports are naturally aggressive and involve contact with other players. Being proactive is key! Dental costs, time in the dental chair and the possibility of further dental problems are just a few repercussions for victims of knocked out teeth. Rather than waiting for a tooth to get knocked out, take the extra step, in hopes to avoid that situation.
Where can I get a quality mouth guard? As previously mentioned, custom-fitted mouth guards are made within the dental office. After taking impressions of your teeth, a special material is molded over the impression, forming the mouth guard. It usually takes a few days to complete the guard. Generic mouth guards are available at most athletic stores; however the response rate of users is dissatisfactory.
Take the proactive approach on your child’s team! Should you have any questions about mouth-guards, you may refer to our website, www.atlantasmiles.com or visit with your local dentist.