Mouth guards aren’t just for football anymore!

On April 2nd I was at the Van Andel Arena watching the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game. During play, a hard shot on goal struck a player, and he went down to the ice. The player was Mitch Callahan, and he was bleeding from his mouth. As they helped him to the bench and into the locker room, another player could be seen picking things up off the ice. He was picking up Mitch’s teeth.

Mitch lost at least 8 teeth and broke his jaw on that play. His selfie from the locker room, before proceeding to the hospital, raised the ire of his coach, and got national attention. Given the force of the shot, and the severity of the damage, you wonder how much worse things could have been without a mouth guard.

Ironically, April is National Facial Protection Month. With 35 million children ages 5-18 playing organized sports, there is great potential for dental injuries. The ADA estimates that one third of all dental injuries in children are sports accidents and that the use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. The ADA also reports that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard.

Football mouth guards are required. But sports like baseball, basketball, softball, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, skateboarding, in-line skating and even gymnastics should encourage mouth guard use. In fact, baseball and basketball have the highest incidence of sports-related dental injuries in children.

The office of Dr. Bruce Sexton encourages every child to wear a mouth guard for any risky activity. The kind of mouth guard is important too. You can get a “stock” mouth guard which just sits over the teeth with a generic fit. These are not very protective, but they are better than nothing. The most common type of mouth guard is the boil-and-bite type where you heat up the mouthpiece and then bite into it getting a better fit to the teeth.   This is the minimum your children should be wearing for every sport or activity where mouth injury is possible. The best mouth guard is a custom fit one made professionally. These are made to cover the teeth better and give protection to the supporting tissues.

In addition to tooth protection, a mouth guard can lessen the impact of a blow to the jaw and reduce or eliminate concussions. When my son was a junior football player in high school several of his teammates missed games due to concussions. Following some discussions with the coach, our office provided custom mouth guards for the team the next season. That season, and every season since, has seen fewer concussions. We believe the quality of the mouth guards has helped in that area. The better the mouth guard, the better the protection for your child.

So, get your child a mouth guard today. If you want the best protection possible, call our office and have a custom mouth guard made. They are only $20. Better to invest in your child’s safety today then spend time looking for teeth that just got knocked out.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Bruce