The AAO survey* found that 84% of children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them, even though they may be required to wear other protective materials, such as helmets and shoulder pads. At a time when a good football helmet or hockey stick may cost $200 each, mouth guards can be one of the least expensive pieces of protective equipment available. Not only do mouth guards save teeth, they help protect jaws.
An effective mouth guard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. It should cover the teeth and, depending on the patient’s bite, also the gums. Your dental professional can recommend the best mouth guard for every sports activity. A properly fitted mouth guard can prevent many accidents and traumatic injuries.
The dental experts at the ASD, AAPD, AAOMS, AAO and ADA urge athletes, parents/caregivers and coaches to be proactive as they head out this spring and stay safe on the field. The ASD, AAPD, AAOMS, AAO, and ADA dental experts offer these important tips:
- Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports. Mouth guards can help prevent injury to a person’s jaw, mouth and teeth and they are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury. Dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards, which provide the best fit. Other less-expensive options are the boil and bite mouthguards, which are softened in boiling water to fit the mouth, and stock mouth guards, which are ready-to-wear but often don’t fit well.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.
- Wear protective eyewear. Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports.
- Wear a face shield to avoid damage to the delicate bones around the eyes, nose and jaw. Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.