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April Is National Facial Protection Month

Posted on April 8, 2014 | in Sports Dentistry | by

With the arrival of Spring, in addition to a couple of holidays, April also brings us a couple dental-friendly reminders of how important it is to get screened for Oral Cancer, and the need to protect our teeth and gums when playing sports.

Guard Your Grill!

National Facial Protection Month

In addition to our last post discussing Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we thought it timely to also help shed some light on the importance of using mouthguards when we (or our children) suit up to play sports this Spring.

We certainly don’t want to play favorites in helping spread the awareness of optimal oral health!

According to the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, Spring often brings a flood of patients suffering with head, mouth and facial injuries resulting from sports-related accidents to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms.

National Facial Protection Month is sponsored by the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists.

Together these organizations encourage children and adults to enjoy the pleasures of the season by using common sense and taking the necessary precautions to prevent sports injuries.

Mouthguards Are An Essential Piece of Safety Equipment

You wouldn’t send your little quarterback on to the football field without a helmet would you? Of course not, and they can bark out those signals just fine with a properly fitted mouthguard – so don’t fall for that folly.

But how about soccer, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, softball, or baseball?

Nowadays mouthguards are present in many other sports aside from the traditional primarily contact & collision sports. Mouthguards cushion blows to the face and neck, and they’re obviously important for athletes playing contact sports, but other athletes face no shortage of hazards: balls, sticks, elbows, goalposts, trees – heck, even the ground could do quite a number on a set of teeth!

Don’t just take our word for it; listen to the professionals at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Check out the article titled, Sports Dental Injuries Are No Laughing Matter.

“Basketball and baseball are the two biggest mouth-injuring sports,” says Stephen Mitchell, D.M.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Pediatric Dentistry.

“And the most common injuries we see are broken, displaced or knocked out teeth, and broken jaws.”

Parents, make sure your kids wear mouthguards this Spring sports season. And unless the mouthguard is actually in the mouth (not chewing on the side of it, not stuck in a helmet…etc.), it is of no use to anybody whatsoever!

Dos & Don’ts of Mouthguard Use

Do: Wear a mouthguard at all times when playing sports. Wear a mouthguard custom-fitted by your dentist, especially if you wear bridges or braces.

Don’t: Wear removable appliances like retainers when playing sports.

Do: Talk to your dentist about choosing the best mouth protection and ensuring the most comfortable fit.

Don’t: Just yank one of those plastic 5 dollar cheapies off the discount rack of the local sporting goods store.

There Are Generally Two Types of Mouthguards:

Custom-made: Designed by a dentist and made on a cast of your teeth. These cause very little interference with speaking or breathing. They provide the best protection and fit over braces and fixed bridges. They also cost more.

Ready-made: Purchased at most sporting goods stores. They are the least expensive, the least effective, and least comfortable. They also tend to make you look a little silly and talk like a buffoon.

We’ve even heard of a few here & there dentists offering custom mouthguards available in the local school colors!


What Is The Point Of All This Mouthguard Chatter?

A properly fitted mouthguard can significantly reduce initial injury and lessen the severity of craniofacial injury.

Only your dentist can determine the perfect fit and provide the answers necessary to best protect your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw, when they’re out playing sports this season.

Ensure your child is wearing their mouthguard at all times. It should be second nature; it should not be uncomfortable or difficult to speak.

So it’s simple – talk to your dentist about a custom mouthguard before your athlete takes the field this Spring!

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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