Dentists and Pediatricians Urge Mouthguard Use

Dentists, Pediatricians Urge Mouthguard Use as Kids Head Back to School
By American Dental Association

Each year, more than 3.5 million children, age 14 and under are injured while playing sports or participating in recreational activities.

As part of the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual back-to-school health promotion, when some 6 million high school students plan their participation in team sports, both health organizations remind parents that the use of mouthguards can help protect children from mouth injuries.

Mouth protectors, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth. If a child wears braces or another fixed dental appliance on their lower jaw, the dentist may suggest a mouth protector for those teeth as well.

Facial injuries and protective equipment

Kids suffer thousands of injuries each year on the playing field, the basketball court or while skateboarding, biking or during other activities.

"Injuries to the face from participating in a sport or other recreational activity can harm your child's teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue, but a properly fitted mouthguard can help protect your child's smile," says Edmond Hewlett, D.D.S., an ADA consumer advisor and associate professor at UCLA's School of Dentistry.

"In addition to mouthguards, be sure your child wears all the appropriate protective equipment made for their sport, such as shin pads, wrist guards, eye protection, and helmet.  President Carol Berkowitz, M.D., FAAP. Always consult your pediatrician on the sport that is right for your child's age and abilities."

"In the past few years, since high schools and colleges began to require mouthguards and facemasks for football, about 200,000 injuries to the mouth and face have been prevented each year," says Dr. Hewlett.

Completion of health, dental exams and immunizations

ADA and AAP also encourage parents to make dental exams a regular part of their children's back-to-school routine, including completion of all health examinations and necessary immunizations in time for the new school year.

Visit the Association's Web site at www.ada.org.