Fall sports are just around the corner and many students have already starting practicing. Just like sports protective gear, a properly fitted mouth guard can protect your child’s teeth and jaw from injury. So this fall, I want to remind athletes, their parents and coaches to play it safe, by wearing mouth guards and appropriate protective gear when participating in activities that could cause injuries. Many sports injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective gear.
Mouth guards are one of the least expensive pieces of protective equipment available. Over-the-counter versions may cost as little as $5. Mouth guards can protect teeth and jaws, but they only provide protection when they are worn, so I advise parents and coaches to remind youngsters to always use a mouth guard when participating in any activity during which the mouth could come into contact with a hard object or the pavement.
Athletes who wear braces should consult their orthodontist for a recommendation of the best mouth guard to wear during orthodontic treatment. At Kaprelian Orthodontics, we offer our patient athletes free sports mouth guards.
Consistent use of other protective equipment is important, too. Helmets save lives and prevent head injuries. They should be worn for activities such as bicycling, skateboarding or skating on in-line skates. Helmet wear is mandated for many organized sports. Helmets should be worn for any activity that puts the head at risk.
Face guards, devices made of plastic or metal that attach to baseball helmets, help to prevent facial injuries as well.
National Facial Protection Month is co-sponsored annually by the American Association of Orthodontists, the oldest and largest dental specialty organization in the world, and by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Academy for Sports Dentistry and the American Dental Association.
Orthodontists receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those with this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the AAO. The AAO’s website is mylifemysmile.org.