Protecting Your Young Athlete From Dental and Facial Trauma
A pediatric dentist explains the importance of mouth guards in sports
Did you know that about 30 million children in the U.S. participate in an organized sport program? Sporting activities are a great form of exercise that help with team building skills and promote confidence in youth, but they also pose a great risk to injury.
It was reported by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that sports accidents account for 10-39 percent of all dental injuries in children! These injuries can happen to a child’s face and teeth from falls, collisions, contact with hard surfaces and sports equipment. Activities such as riding a bike, skateboarding, hover boarding and jumping on a trampoline can result in injuries that affect the teeth and the face. The upper lip, gums and front teeth are more prone to injury. These teeth are subject to fracture, nerve damage, becoming loose and even falling out.
Not all sports-related injuries can be avoided, but most of them can be prevented! Wearing helmets, facemasks and mouthguards have been shown to greatly reduce the severity of dental and facial trauma. The National Federation of State and High School Associations only mandate mouthguard use for certain sports such as football, ice/field hockey, lacrosse and wrestlers wearing braces. But it is very important that proper protective equipment and mouthguards be worn for all sports that have the risk of injury (baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics to name just a few).
A mouthguard is made to protect the lips, gums and teeth from damage. They work by absorbing the energy from an impact and dissipating the remaining energy. There are many different types of mouthguards and if you are thinking of getting a mouthguard for your child, it is important that you visit your dentist. The best mouthguards are the ones that are custom made at the dental office. A mold is taken of the teeth and a mouthguard is made that is the right fit and comfortable for your child. If a custom mouthguard is not feasible for you, then there are many other mouthguards that are available over the counter. Even though they may not be a perfect fit, they will still provide offer some protection.
Bottom line, please protect your child’s face and teeth with the proper protective equipment while they are playing sports and having fun!