Dentists Urge Coaches and Parents to Protect Kids’ Smiles This Fall
SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. – September 24, 2018 – As fall sports get underway, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) is reminding parents, coaches, and athletic directors that they can help prevent avoidable injuries by strongly encouraging their student athletes to wear mouthguards during games and practices.
Custom Mouthguards Can Keep Student Athletes Out of the Dental Chair
Athletes wear helmets to protect against concussions and pads on their shoulders, knees, and elbows to safeguard against breaks and bruises. Mouthguards are another simple, but necessary, piece of equipment for protecting the mouth and teeth.
An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. Yet, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health has reported that about half of Massachusetts middle school students do not wear a mouthguard when playing team sports.
“Mouthguards help prevent injury to the mouth area, especially to the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue,” said MDS President Dr. Howard Zolot. “Even athletes who wear helmets or face shields should wear mouthguards, since they also protect against head-and-neck injuries by helping to cushion blows.
“There is a misconception that mouthguards are not necessary in some sports, such as soccer and basketball,” Dr. Zolot continued. “But players can easily receive blows to the face from an elbow, soccer ball, or basketball. They also can fall face-first onto a hard gymnasium floor or on the field.”
Sports injuries involving the mouth can have far-reaching consequences. In addition to any pain and expense in the immediate treatment of a knocked-out tooth or other mouth injury, patients may encounter significant expense with follow-up care—many times greater than the price of a mouthguard—and missed school days.
There are three types of mouthguards available: the custom-made mouthguard, the boil-and-bite mouthguard, and the stock mouthguard that one can buy in a sporting goods store. Dentists usually recommend that athletes wear custom-made mouthguards.
“Any type of mouthguard is better than no mouthguard, but a custom-made mouthguard is by far the best option because it is made from a dentist’s impression of the teeth,” Dr. Zolot said. “As a result, athletes breathe better, speak more clearly, and, most importantly, receive the best protection from an orofacial injury.”
To learn more about the types of mouthguards available, guidelines for orthodontic patients, and tips for handling mouthguards, visit massdental.org/mouthguards and download the educational Grin and Wear It® poster and brochure.