Play it Safe: Protect Your Smile

April is National Facial Protection Month and during this time the American Association of Orthodontists along with the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the Academy for Sports Dentistry campaign to educate the public about facial protection. With spring sports underway and kids eager to play outside after a long winter the risk on dental injury is higher.

Wearing a mouth guard is a simple measure that could protect their smile all year long.

Mouth guards reduce the risk of knocking out teeth or breaking your jaw during contact sports by cushioning the impact between the upper and lower teeth and by creating a resilient shield around the teeth.

tooth shield

Local orthodontist, Dr. Susan Lempert, quotes the American Association of Orthodontists position on mouth guards, “While most organized sports require a mouth guard for participation it is important to note that injury can happen during informal neighborhood play and even when you are riding your bike.”  She emphasizes that “Any time you’re engaged in an activity where your face can come in contact with something hard—say another player, a ball, the pavement, or any hard object—it’s a time that you should be wearing a mouth guard!”  Many injuries will be less severe or prevented with mouth guard wear.

tooth shield 2When choosing a mouth guard it is important to consider several factors including comfort, fit and ease of breathing.  There are three general types of guards:  Custom-Made, Mouth Formed or “Boil-and-Bite” and Stock Guards.  Dr. Lempert explains that custom guards are more expensive but they provide the most protection as they are made from a full mouth digital scan taken in the dentist’s office and sent to a dental lab for fabrication. The Boil-and-Bite guards are a good cost-effective alternative but tend to wear quickly, are bulky and make breathing difficult.  Both of these guards cannot be used when orthodontic braces are in place.

Dr. Lempert encourages the use of the best fitting stock guard during orthodontic care to minimize tooth and jaw injury and to prevent the braces from embedding in the lip if the patient gets hit.

“With many choices out there it can be challenging to find a comfortable stock guard for use while braces are in place.” Dr. Lempert explains. “We know that custom guards are the best, but during orthodontic care they cannot be used.  There are many options out there for stock guards but the one I have been most impressed with in terms of comfort, design, protection and cost is the ToothShield by Practicon.” The ToothShield was designed by renowned pediatric dentist and educator, Dr. Theodore Croll, and is made of a soft, flexible material that fits comfortably while in place.  The ToothShield is fabricated in the USA of safe FDA-grade thermoplastic elastomer.   The ToothShield retails for approximately $6-7 per guard and can be conveniently delivered to your doorstep by Amazon.

So play it safe during contact sports this spring and all year long—wear a mouth guard!

Dr. Lempert provides complimentary orthodontic screenings for children in her Swedesboro office.  You can visit her website at: to learn more about her practice.

Dr. Susan LempertAAO






Dr. Lempert graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Human Biology.   She received her Master of Science in Oral Biology Degree, Certificate in Orthodontics, and Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree from Temple University School of Dentistry.