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Mouthguards Protect Against Dental Injuries

Mouthguards protect against dental injuries.

Youth sports, organized or random, can be harmful to children. Without the proper precautions, children are at risk for a number of injuries. Kids and balls, skates, bats, bikes, trampolines, ballet, pools, floor exercises, gymnastics, inside and outside risk injury. Most can be prevented without too much trouble. Aside from teaching proper body mechanics, we protect children with body armor of all kinds. When your kid goes out for sports, organized or otherwise, is he well protected? One piece of equipment has had a controversial existence since coming onto the scene in 1913. It protects against concussions, yet is only required in five sports. It is the mouthguard.

The American Dental Association recommends wearing customized mouthguards for these activities: acrobatics, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. There is an irrational lack of perceived need for mouthguards in sports that cause the most injuries to the mouth and face: baseball, basketball, and soccer. The perceived need for girls in these sports is less than for boys, even though girls suffer the same number of traumas. Customized mouth protection, most obviously, protects against broken teeth. Less obvious is protection against wear on teeth during lifting and jarring sports. Mouthguards also protect against concussion. Keeping the teeth separated with a uniform amount of plastic throughout the dentition opens the distance between the jawbone and the skull. With a mouthguard in place, the plastic will absorb the majority of shock from a blow. Without it, the impact will travel through the jawbone, forcing it to collide into the skull resulting in a concussion.

Who Should Monitor Wearing?

It comes down to everyone. Once informed, parents can be an important ally to coaches and officials as well as a role model to their children. First, by supplying the child with a custom fit mouthguard. Second, a parent can be a role model by wearing one during activities such as rollerblading, softball or weight training.

Coaches are THE decision-makers on this topic. The decision to wear mouth protection for practice as well as competition is critical. It turns out that the coach's insistence on mouthguard use is the most important factor to influence the kids to wear their gear.

Officials, in organized team sports, have the authority to penalize a team that presents a player without mouth protection. This penalty can range from yardage loss to eliminating a time out. Without the officials' use of these penalties, parents and coaches lose their momentum. Working together, parents, coaches, and officials can insure this important safety measure becomes the status quo.

What About the Kids?

Often when mouthguards are suggested but not mandated, parents get the easiest thing they can find. Usually it's a "boil and bite" variety, some of which cover the upper and lower teeth, fully and together. The players complain because that design doesn't fit well and limits speech and breathing. Considering the sustained running involved in basketball or soccer, this is unacceptable as a safety device. Custom made mouthguards are far superior. Any dentist can make one. However, a dentist that sees many athletes has an insight to the game that other dentists may not. For the girl or boy active in sports over their school career, a new appliance will need to be made periodically as they grow.

Today mouthguards can be made to look super cool with wild colors and designs. Soon they will become as prevalent as the helmets the kids wear without self-conscousness these days.

If you're interested in getting a mouthguard, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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