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Mouthguards: The First Step to Protecting Kids From Sports-Related Dental Injuries

Dental injuries can occur at any time. Whether kids are playing competitive contact sports or simply goofing off at the park, the risk is always there. Protective equipment, such as a mouthguard, is often the first line of defense in preventing these injuries.

Sports-related traumatic dental injuries most often result from falls, collisions or contact with other players, sports equipment or hard surfaces. Mouthguard use has been shown to reduce the risk of these types of sport-related dental injuries since mouthguards are designed take the brunt of the force of impact. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental injuries can occur in both organized and unorganized sports, at all levels, and to participants of all ages, genders and skill levels. And although the ADA and the International Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend the use of mouthguards in 29 sports or activities, currently the National Federation of State High School Associations only mandates the wearing of mouthguards in football, ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and wrestlers with braces.

Education Equals Prevention

One of the biggest factors in preventing sports-related traumatic dental injuries is education. Parents, coaches, trainers and dentists need to work together to know and understand the benefits of using a properly fitted mouthguard. Parents are encouraged to tell their child’s dentist if their child participates in team sports or other activities with risks of injury to the teeth, jaw, mouth, lips, cheeks or tongue. This includes activities that may seem less obvious, such as gymnastics or ice skating. Likewise, dentists are encouraged to ask these questions of their patients and help them find the appropriate type of mouthguard, ensure a proper fit and evaluate the various costs and benefits of this important piece of protective equipment.