Spring is just around the corner and we’d like to remind our patients -- as well as parents, coaches and athletes -- to play it safe as they prepare to suit up for sports this season.
A child’s mouth and face can easily be injured if the proper precautions are not taken while playing sports. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of the 7 million sports and recreation-related injuries that occur each year are sustained by children as young as 5.
Last year, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation (NYSSF) forecasted that more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events – yet, in a survey commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontics, 67 percent of parents admitted their children do not wear a mouth guard while playing sports. Athletes who do not wear mouth guards are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth.
Most children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them. However, they may be required to wear other protective materials, such as helmets and shoulder pads. Mouth guards can be one of the least expensive pieces of equipment and not only can they save teeth, they can also help protect jaws. Children wearing braces have slightly higher risk of oral injuries, including mouth lacerations, if their braces are hit by a ball or another player.
More tips to consider before hitting the field:
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 scratched or bruised skin. Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.
Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports. Mouth guards can help prevent injury to a person’s jaw, mouth and teeth. They are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury.
An effective mouth guard simply holds teeth in place and allows for normal speech and breathing. It should cover the teeth, and depending on the patient’s bite, also the gums. By wearing a properly fitted mouth guard, many accidents and traumatic injuries can be prevented. The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year.