Spring is in full swing, and many have thankfully returned to activities such as team sports. April is National Facial Protection Month, and so, as an orthodontist, I want to remind everyone to always play it safe during recreational and organized sports. Taking certain precautions (i.e., wearing mouth guards, helmets, protective eyewear and face shields) during sports will help prevent serious, painful facial and brain injuries.
Dentists and dental specialists witness oral and facial trauma injuries regularly and so understand the importance of mouth guards in protecting the teeth and face during sports. Mouth guards help cushion a blow to the face, offering protection by absorbing high-impact energy from potentially traumatic blows. In this way, they minimize the risk of broken teeth and injuries to lips, tongue, face or jaw and even help prevent concussions.
Children ages 7 to 11 are most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries, and athletes are 60% more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouth guard. It is important to remember that a single traumatic injury to the teeth may never heal completely, and it can create a lifetime of expensive, long-term problems for the affected individual.
The best mouth guard is one that is custom made for your mouth by your dentist or orthodontist. However, a stock mouth guard or a boil-and-bite mouth guard, which are available at sporting goods stores, are good alternatives. There are also a variety of mouth guard options for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment, such as those that fit on top of braces.
It is also worth mentioning that clear plastic removable aligners, such as Invisalign, offer a certain amount of protection to the teeth when worn during sports. Since they completely cover the biting surface of the teeth with plastic, they offer a layer of protection that is helpful in case of impact to the face or mouth.
In recognition of National Facial Protection Month, Pinecrest Orthodontics is once again offering free Shock Doctor® mouth guards for any athlete needing one! Just stop by our office to claim yours (limit one per person). We are committed to helping athletes stay safe and avoid injuries to the mouth and face whenever possible.