With the back-to-school SBMSA sports rush in full swing, there’s also something else just over the horizon – fall sports season and preseason practices. Nearly 30 million children and adolescents participate in some form of youth sports in the U.S.
Today, most sports, even at the preteen level, require a lot of sportswear and protective equipment for safe play. This is especially true in the case of contact sports. The value and benefits of a mouthguard make it an essential piece of protective equipment for student athletes of all ages during practice and gameplay.
Don’t Skip Out On The Safeguards From A Mouthguard
Sports and recreational activities can often lead to face and mouth injuries if the player isn’t properly protected. Such injuries most frequently happen from contact between players and contact between a player and other objects like the ground, a ball, or sports equipment.
The Academy of General Dentistry reports that athletes wearing mouthguards are 70 times less likely to suffer teeth damage than those without a mouthguard. Research has shown that sports-related dental injuries account for a third of all dental injuries. There’s a 10% chance of a student athlete suffering a dental or facial injury every single time he or she takes the field.
How Do Mouthguards Help Prevent Trauma Injuries?
Under the chin impacts force the lower and upper jaw to slam together, which can cause chipped and broke teeth, damage to the jawbone, damage to the jaw joint, and injury to any soft tissue caught between the lower and upper jaw as they slam together. Direct jaw impacts force the jaw sideways or backwards, which can damage the joint, fracture bones, and chip and break teeth. Direct impacts to the mouth can cause teeth, gum, lips, and cheek injuries.
Mouthguards act as cushions to absorb the shock of impacts and barriers to protect against the force of impacts to the mouth and lower face. These protections reduce the associated risk of mouth, teeth, and jaw trauma.
Mouthguards For Athletes In Braces
Metal braces significantly increase the odds of mouth injuries for student-athletes not wearing a mouthguard. When an impact occurs, there’s nothing between the sharp, hard metal and the child’s soft cheek and lip tissues. The risk of such lacerations can be significantly reduced by adding the barrier a mouthguard provides.
There are a number of specialty mouthguards on the market that are specifically designed to fit over braces. Speak with the child’s orthodontist to see which type of mouthguard is recommended for the child’s age, sport, and type of braces.
Don’t Forget That Younger Athletes Need To Wear A Mouthguard
The common recommendation is for any child with permanent teeth to wear a mouthguard during contact sports, but some sports and children may require a mouthguard even earlier. So, the best course of action is to consult your pediatrician or pediatric dentist as soon as your child begins a sport or recreational activity to see if a mouthguard is necessary.
It may seem overly cautious to mouthguard athletes this young, but even casual play on a field is dangerous when there are numerous running bodies, sports equipment, and balls flying. There are around seven million reported sports-related injuries each year, and over 40% of these are sustained by children in the 14-year-old to five-year-old age bracket. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, approximately three million teeth per year are knocked out during youth sporting events.
Add A Mouthguard To Your Sports Equipment Supply List
Young athletes are often focused in on obtaining and showing off the year’s most trendy pieces of sports equipment in their baseball bats, hockey sticks, soccer cleats, and so forth, but what they’re forgetting is that their smile will be something they’ll be showing off indefinitely. A mouthguard may not be as flashy as a new baseball bat, but it’s one of the most inexpensive and invaluable protections that should be on your back-to-sports shopping list.