April is National Facial Protection Month—and we’re not talking about the face masks we’re all wearing to go grocery shopping these days. As the weather warms up and kids head outside to play their favorite sports, we see an increase in patients with mouth injuries. National Facial Protection Month is sponsored by six national organizations, including the American Association of Orthodontics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, to bring attention to the fact that most of these injuries can be prevented with a simple mouthguard.
Why Mouth Guards Matter
Professional athletes are required to wear mouth guards in boxing, football, and hockey, but many school districts and sports leagues don’t have the same requirement for children. Certainly, our kids deserve the same protection as adults—especially when you consider that sports are the most common cause of childhood injuries. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Policy on Prevention of Sports-Related Orofacial Injuries reports that sports injuries represent anywhere from 10 to 39 percent of all dental injuries in children.
Helmets, protective eyewear, and face shields are all important for preventing injury, but as pediatric dentists, we see firsthand the devastating effects of trauma to the teeth, jaw, and soft tissues in the mouth.
The most obvious type of dental injury people think of when it comes to sports is knocked out teeth, but missing teeth aren’t the only thing you should worry about when your kids participate in sports. Teeth can also be broken or chipped, displaced, or become loose. The soft tissue in the mouth can be cut, torn, or bruised. Injuries to the bone and jaw can cause lifelong chronic pain and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and may even require surgical repair.
Mouthguards are just as important as regular dental cleanings and fluoride when it comes to preventive dentistry. All children should wear a mouth guard for any contact or collision sports and anytime the teeth could come into contact with a ball, hard object, another player, or the pavement. Without a mouth guard, athletes are 60 percent more likely to sustain a dental injury.
The Importance of Getting a Custom Mouth Guard
A mouthguard is much less expensive than the cost of treating and repairing a dental injury, but it’s important to note that not all mouthguards offer the same amount of protection.
There are a few different types of mouth guards to choose from and while any mouth guard is better than no mouth guard at all, a custom mouth guard like those available from a dentist provides the best protection from dental injuries.
A one-size-fits-all mouth guard is usually bulky and uncomfortable, making it difficult for your child to talk and breathe during vigorous activity. When a child isn’t comfortable with their mouth guard, they’re more likely to leave it in their locker than wear it on the field. Boil-and-bite mouth guards are a step up from one-size-fits-all varieties, but the material used to make them is inferior to that used in a dentist’s office. Unlike store-bought versions, custom mouth guards are fitted, lightweight, strong, and easy to clean.
When you purchase your child a custom-fitted mouth guard, it’s made with high quality materials that offer the best possible protection—and it’s made using molds of your child’s teeth, so the fit is guaranteed to be perfect. They protect both teeth and gums while also cushioning the jaw. We can even offer your child their choice of colors to get them excited about wearing their new mouth guard.
Learn More About How to Protect Your Child’s Smile
Whether it’s for National Facial Protection Month or any other time of year, we’re happy to discuss custom mouth guards and other strategies to help protect your child’s smile while they participate in their favorite sports and activities. Contact us today at 214-691-1172 to schedule an appointment.