When I ask my patients if they are wearing a mouthguard during their contact sports, most parents respond “Oh, he doesn’t need one, he uses a helmet.” What many of my patients may not understand is that concussions often occur through tooth to tooth contact. Teeth are created to dissipate forces away from the biting surface of the teeth, and when a substantial impact is sustained, the forces are distributed through the tooth and into the head.
Today’s pressure to succeed and achieve is alive and well in all of our children. This pressure is often exacerbated in childhood contact sports. According to the American Dental Association, anyone who participates in a sport that carries a significant risk of injury should wear a mouth guard. I see tooth injuries from football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, skiing, and hockey on a weekly basis, and unfortunately, most of these injuries could have been prevented.
A mouth guard can prevent serious injuries such as concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, unconsciousness, jaw fractures, and neck injuries by helping to avoid contact between the upper and lower jaws. Mouth guards are effective in moving soft tissue away from the teeth, preventing lacerations and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who were orthodontic appliances. Remember – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment!