April is National Facial Protection Month, and Dr. Brandt and Dr. Burgoyne urge parents, caregivers, and coaches to be proactive in preventing sports-related injuries to the head and face through the use of safety equipment.
A child’s mouth and face can be easily injured if the proper precautions are not used while playing sports. In fact according to the Center for Disease Control, more than 2.6 million children are treated in emergency departments each year for sports and recreation-related injuries. Yet, a survey commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontists in 2011 found that 67 percent of parents admit that their child does not wear a mouth guard during organized sports. This raises a question: If mouth guards offer a simple and relatively inexpensive solution to help dramatically decrease the risk of oral and facial injuries, why aren’t more kids wearing them? Parents are encouraged to talk with their dental professionals about the right mouth guards for their young athletes. Parents should also urge coaches to require that young athletes wear their mouth guards at every practice and every game.
Every year, dentists and dental specialists are called to hospital emergency rooms to treat children who have sustained knocked-out teeth, broken jaws, and other facial injuries during organized or neighborhood sports activities. For most of these children, these injuries could have been less severe or prevented entirely if they had worn a mouth guard, helmet or other protective headgear.
As we return to outdoor sports and other activities, April is an appropriate time to remind you about the importance of taking a few precautions to preserve your teeth and be protected from facial injuries. Whether at a practice, a game or simply enjoying some fun in the neighborhood, there are a variety of ways to play it safe:
- 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 persons’ jaw, mouth, and teeth; and they are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury.
A custom mouth guard offers the best protection.
April is the perfect time to get into the mouth guard habit. Wear one at every practice and game!