Take Five: Sports Safety Tips for National Facial Protection Month

Mar 31, 2015, 14:38 ET from American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons

ROSEMONT, Ill., March 31, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Calling all MVPs, team captains, full roster players, practice squads, coaches, teachers and parents/caregivers. Five of the nation's top dental associations want to remind everyone to play it safe during recreational and organized sports to help prevent serious, painful facial injuries that can take the fun out of the game. Take five, and take in these five simple safety tips.

  1. Mouth Guards are a Must. Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.  
  2. Helmets are always Helpful. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.  
  3. Have 20/20 Vision with Protective Eyewear.  Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports.
  4. Face Shields Save Skin…and more.  Hockey pucks, footballs and
  5. racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.
  6. Cheer and Shout Out Your Support for Mandatory Protective Gear.  Athletes who participate in football, hockey and boxing are required to wear mouth guards. If mouth guards have been proven to significantly decrease the risk of oral injuries, why is it not mandatory in every sport for kids to wear them? 

Whether your child is playing a contact sport or just monkeying around on the monkey bars, accidents happen. A recently published study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database of injuries treated at hospital emergency departments, for the period 2001-2008. Researchers found the five most common causes of childhood injuries were, in order of frequency, basketball, football, bicycling, playgrounds and soccer. 1

An estimated 12 million people between the ages of 5 and 22 years suffer a sport-related injury annually, which leads to 20 million lost days of school2 and approximately $33 billion in healthcare costs.3 Yet, some of these injuries could be prevented with protective gear. "A properly fitted mouth guard is an essential piece of any athlete's protective equipment," says Dr. Paul Nativi, DMD, FASD, and past president of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. "Talk with your dentist about what kinds of activities your family enjoys and ask about ways to make sure their teeth and face stay protected."

Every April, National Facial Protection Month strives to raise public awareness and remind parents/caregivers, coaches and athletes to play it safe while playing sports. The Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the American Dental Association (ADA) are collaborating to promote the 2015 April is National Facial Protection Month observance to help people learn more about how simple it can be to take five and make a play for better safety that protects not only your mouth and face, but also your peace of mind.

1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141013152656.htm. 2. National Athletic Trainers' Association. (unpublished media review). 3. Ferguson RW. Safe Kids Worldwide Analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data, 2013.

AbouNational Facial Protection Month    
National Facial Protection Month is sponsored annually during the month of April by the Academy for Sports Dentistry (http://www.academyforsportsdentistry.org), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (http://www.aapd.org), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (http://www.MyOMS.org), American Association of Orthodontists (http://www.mylifemysmile.org), and the American Dental Association (http://www.mouthhealthy.org). Visit their Web sites for more information and helpful materials.

Choosing the mouth guard that's right for your sport and recreational activities

The Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association recommend that all children and adults engaging in organized sports or recreational activities should wear comfortable, well-fitted mouth guards that do not restrict breathing, resist tearing and are easy to clean.

Organized sports include, but are not limited to, football, wrestling, basketball, baseball, volleyball, ice and field hockey, softball and soccer. Recreational sports include cycling, inline skating, skateboarding or any activity in which the face could come in contact with a hard object, another person or the pavement.

Types of Mouth Guards:
There are three types of mouth guards available:






Custom made from a full-mouth impression taken in the dentist's office and sent to a dental lab for fabrication.

Provides the most protection and comfort.

Covers all teeth and cushions the jaw.

No interference with speech or breathing.

Adjustable for all sports.

More expensive than commercially made mouth guards.

Mouth-formed or

Boiled in water for a period of time and then formed to the teeth by applying pressure.

Cost effective

Available from department and sporting goods stores.

Provides better individual fit than stock mouth guards.

Tend to wear quickly and may need to be replaced during the sports season.

Difficult to adapt to orthodontic appliances.

Difficult to speak and breathe.

Stock or commercial mouth guards

Rubber or polyvinyl and sold in small, medium or large sizes.

Sold in major department and sporting goods stores.


Cannot be modified to fit the individual's mouth.

Least effective in terms of protection.

Impairs breathing and stays in place only when mouth is closed.

To get the most of your mouth guard, you'll need to take proper care of the device. Wash it in cool soapy water and rinse it off well before and after each time you use it. For even better protection against germ build up, brush the guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste before and after every use. Also, don't chew on the mouth guard, don't wear removable retainers with your mouth guard and replace your mouth guard when it shows signs of wear and tear.

Because different sports involve different levels of risk and potential injury, talk to your dentist or dental specialist before selecting a mouth guard that meets the needs of your child's specific activity.

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SOURCE American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons