There is a widespread lack of mouthguard use in youth sports, posing risks to youth athletes’ teeth and facial bones, according to a recent national survey of parents sponsored by Delta Dental. The Children’s Oral Health Survey found that 72% of basketball players, 71% of soccer players, and 70% of baseball players do not wear mouthguards. More specifically, 37 million children age 12 and under do not wear mouthguards while playing soccer.
“A child’s healthy smile needs to last a lifetime. Sports-related injuries cause millions of lost teeth annually. Well-fitted mouthguards can help significantly reduce the possibility of oral injuries during sporting activities, including non-contact sports too,” said Joseph Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and network strategy. “Young athletes can grow to appreciate the mouthguard as one more essential later of their protective uniforms.”
Respondents also indicated that their children aren’t wearing mouthguards during gymnastics (79%), volleyball (65%), skiing (61%), rugby (48%), lacrosse (40%), ice hockey (38%), field hockey (34%), boxing (34%), and football (26%).
According to Delta Dental, mouthguards can prevent lost or cracked teeth; fractures in roots, crowns, cheekbones, and jawbones; teeth pushed out of the socket; abrasions and broken or damaged blood vessels; and cuts to soft tissue such as the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips. To help parents better understand the risks and what they can do to prevent them, Delta Dental offers “Your Game Plan for Defeating Sports-Related Problems.”