Each April the dental community joins together to promote National Facial Protection Month. It is the perfect time of year to bring attention to how important it is to protect your teeth, gums and mouth from injury when taking part in organized sports and recreational activities.
“It is important that athletes of all ages play it safe by wearing mouth guards and appropriate protective gear when participating in activities that could cause injuries,” said local orthodontist Dr. Susan Lempert, a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). “Many sports injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective gear.”
Mouth guards are one of the least expensive pieces of protective equipment available. Over-the-counter mouth guards cost as little as $5 and can protect teeth and jaws, but they only provide protection when they are worn.
Mouth guards are much less expensive than the cost of care to restore broken or knocked out teeth. In a recent AAO study among 1,000 U.S. parents whose children play in organized sports, the parents estimated it would cost $1,142 to replace a damaged permanent tooth. In reality, costs to treat one knocked-out tooth over a lifetime can range from $5,000 to $20,000, according to an article in the journal Sports Health.
Dr. Lempert advises parents and coaches to remind youngsters to always use a mouth guard when participating in any activity during which the mouth could come into contact with a hard object or the pavement. “Athletes in orthodontic treatment should consult their orthodontist about the type of mouth guard to use,” said Dr. Lempert.
Consistent use of other protective equipment is important, too. Helmets save lives and prevent head injuries. They should be worn for activities such as bicycling, skateboarding or skating on in-line skates. Helmet wear is mandated for many organized sports. Face guards, devices made of plastic or metal that attach to baseball helmets, help to prevent facial injuries as well.
For more information, visit Dr. Susan Lempert’s website at http://www.lempertsmile.com/ or call 856-241-8400.
National Facial Protection Month is co-sponsored annually by the American Association of Orthodontists, the oldest and largest dental specialty organization in the world, and by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Academy for Sports Dentistry and the American Dental Association. Orthodontists receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those with this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the AAO. The AAO’s website is aaoinfo.org.