The NFL’s concussion crisis brought to national attention the lifelong injuries suffered by many of the sport’s players. This exposure has fueled concern for the safety of the millions of children and young adults that are also engaged in organized contact sports. Parents, schools, and organizations go to great lengths to make sure that their athletes of all sports have the necessary protective equipment to prevent injury, but one important item is often overlooked and underused—the mouthguard.
Every spring, April showers bring an influx of sports-related mouth, head, and face injuries to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. In an effort to raise awareness and reduce these types of injuries, the nation’s top dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, teamed up to sponsor National Facial Protection Awareness Month every April.
You might think collision sports like football or hockey pose the biggest injury risk, but a study published by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry found that, among high school students, 40% of mouth injuries occurred during baseball and basketball. In football, where mouthguards are mandatory, the occurrence is a low as half of 1%, according to some studies. There’s no question about their benefit; athletes who don’t wear a mouthguard are 60 times more likely to suffer a mouth injury, according to the Massachusetts Dental Society.
If you’ve ever worn one, it’s easy to understand why kids might resist a mouthguard. They can be uncomfortable, can make it hard to breathe or speak, and can, admittedly, be a little bit gross when it comes time to take them out. These inconveniences, however, are a small price to pay compared to the pain and cost of fixing a broken tooth.
Mouth protection has advanced significantly over the years. Today, many dentists offer custom, professional-grade mouthguards that are made from an impression of the athlete’s teeth. Not only do they offer much better protection than boil-and-bite or stock mouthguards, but they also cause minimal interference with breathing and talking, are resistant to tearing, and are a better choice for those with braces. They’re also much more comfortable, meaning your athlete is more likely to wear them consistently. The best mouthguard in the world won’t offer any protection if it’s not used.
Contact Aesthetic Family Dentistry in Port Jervis today to find out more about custom mouthguards or to schedule a fitting. We offer high-performance products from Power Balance and PlaySafe in different styles and levels of protection to best suit your athlete.
For more information on National Facial Protection Month, please visit http://www.aaoms.org/media/april-is-national-facial-protection-month/.