Orthodontist: Wear a mouth guard for sports

Apr 24, 2013
Courtesy of: Jacqueline de Leon-Estes Jordan Bettencourt (baseball), Stephanie Coons (Winter Guard) and Patrick Olson (football and basketball) are happy to wear their mouth guards.

April is National Facial Protection Month, and Dr. Jacqueline de Leon-Estes of Harbour Pointe Orthodontics wants to remind athletes to play it safe and wear a mouth guard when they play sports.

“Each year I see a significant number of children with dental injuries that resulted from failure to wear a mouth guard,” said de Leon-Estes, orthodontist at Harbour Pointe Orthodontics.

“I urge parents and coaches to require mouth guards as part of a child’s uniform – for every practice and every game.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than half of the 7 million sports- and recreation-related injuries that occur each year are sustained by youth as young as 5 years old.

Last year, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation forecasted that more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events – yet, in a survey commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontists, 67 percent of parents admitted that their child does not wear a mouth guard during organized sports.

If mouth guards offer a simple and relatively inexpensive solution to help dramatically decrease the risk of oral and injuries, why aren’t more kids wearing them?

The AAO found that 84 percent of children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them, even though they are required to wear other protective gear, such as helmets and shoulder pads.

“Not only do mouth guards save teeth, they help protect jaws,” de Leon said. “Children wearing braces have slightly higher risk of oral injuries, including mouth lacerations, if they are hit in the mouth by a ball or another player.

“An orthodontist can recommend the best mouth guard for an athlete who wears braces.”

In the event of a dental injury, Harbour Pointe Orthodontics offers these tips:

• Clean the injured area and apply ice.

• Save the tip of a broken tooth (for possible reattachment) and call your dentist right away.

• For a knocked out tooth, locate the tooth and hold it by the crown (the wide part, not the pointed end/root).

• AVOID RUBBING THE ROOT OR TOUCHING IT.

• Rinse the tooth ONLY if there is a need to remove debris.

• Put the tooth back in its socket; cover with gauze or tissue and bite down to stabilize it. Or briefly store the tooth in cold milk or salt water, or between the cheek and gum.

• Do not let the tooth dry out. A tooth may be saved if cared for properly and re-implanted within an hour.

• See your dentist immediately.

Dr. de Leon encourages parents to talk with their dental professionals about the right mouth guards for their young athletes, and to urge coaches to require that young athletes wear their mouth guards at every practice and every game.

Call de Leon-Estes at 425-348-5060 or email her at drdeleon@harbourpointeorthodontics.com if you want to learn more.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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