Spring for a Custom Mouthguard to Keep Student Athletes Out of the Dental Chair
Dentists Urge Coaches and Parents to Protect Kids’ Smiles
SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.—April 11, 2019—With spring sports 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.
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, according to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation. 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. And, in a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists, 67 percent of parents admitted that their child does NOT wear a mouthguard during organized sports including football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse.
“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 should only be worn in contact sports such as football, basketball, boxing, lacrosse, or hockey,” Dr. Zolot continued. “But athletes also can risk experiencing an oral injury in non-contact sports, such as baseball.”
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.
About the Massachusetts Dental Society
The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), a professional association representing 5,000+ member dentists and a statewide constituent of the American Dental Association, is dedicated to the professional development of its member dentists through initiatives in education, advocacy, the promotion of the highest professional standards, and championing oral health in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit massdental.org, and follow the MDS on Twitter @MassDental.