As spring sports get underway, a coalition of dental organizations is reminding clinicians and families alike that April is National Facial Protection Month and encouraging athletes to wear mouthguards to protect their teeth.
According to the organizations, children between the ages of 7 and 11 are most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries. Also, athletes are 60% more likely to suffer harm to their teeth if they aren’t wearing a mouthguard.
Collision and contact sports such as football and hockey may present the greatest risks for mouth injuries, the coalition notes, but athletes may experience dental injuries in non-contact activities such as gymnastics and skating as well.
For the best protection, the organizations advice, athletes should use a mouthguard custom-made by their dentist. If that is not possible or affordable, stock mouthguards and boil-and-bite mouthguards available at most sporting goods stores are effective as well.
“A properly fitted mouthguard is an essential piece of any athlete’s protective equipment,” said Paul Nativi, DMD, past president of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. “Talk with your dentist about what kinds of activities your family enjoys and ask about ways to make sure their teeth and face stay protected.”
The coalition of groups promoting National Facial Protection Month includes the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Association of Orthodontists, and the ADA.
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