March 17, 2015

Mouth Guards Protecting Your Little Athletes Smile

Whether it’s sunscreen or helmets, parents take many precautions to keep their children safe, but they sometimes forget to protect one of their children’s most valuable assets: their smiles.

Your little athletes are so busy keeping the offense out of the end zone that they don’t even think about protecting “the smile zone.” The name is self-explanatory: The smile zone is the upper front area of the mouth that displays both the teeth and gum line when a person smiles. (Hockey players apparently take a lot of hits to their smiles zones.)

The American Dental Association reports that “numerous surveys of sport-related, dental injuries have documented that participants of all ages, genders and skill-levels are at risk of sustaining dental injuries in sporting activities, including organized and unorganized sports at both recreational and competitive levels.”

The ADA further clarifies that “while collision and contact sports, such as boxing, have inherent injury risks, dental injuries are also prevalent in non-contact activities and exercises, such as gymnastics and skating.”

Simply put, every child who participates in a sport of any kind runs the risk of sustaining a dental injury.

For most youth, involvement in some sort of sporting activity is inevitable, so properly fitted mouth guards are the best available protective devices for maintaining oral health. Mouth guards cannot altogether prevent dental-related trauma, but they help to reduce the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries.

The ADA cites studies that indicate that mouth guard users benefit from “significant protection” against sports-related injuries to the teeth and soft tissues.” Mouth guards achieve this by providing a protective surface that distributes forces on impact, which minimizes the severity of the traumatic injury to the mouth. Some sports (like football) are inherently contact-oriented and require additional protection.

If your children plan to participate in team sports that have risks of injury to the teeth, jaw or soft tissues of the mouth, please come to our office and talk to Dr. Powell about how to protect their smile zones.