Dentists, Pediatricians Urge Mouthguard Use as Kids Head Back to School

Each year, more than 3.5 million children age 14 and under are injured while playing sports or participating in recreational activities.

As part of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics annual back-to-school health promotion, when some 6 million high school students plan their participation in team sports, both health organizations remind parents that the use of mouthguards can help protect children from mouth injuries.

Mouthguards help cushion blows that might otherwise cause broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. They also may reduce the severity and incidence of concussions. If a child wears braces or another fixed dental appliance on his or her lower jaw, the dentist may suggest a mouth protector for those teeth as well.

"Injuries to the face from participating in a sport or other recreational activity can harm your child's teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue, but a properly fitted mouthguard can help protect your child's smile," says Dr. Edmond Hewlett, an ADA consumer advisor and associate professor at UCLA's School of Dentistry.

"In the past few years, since high schools and colleges began to require mouthguards and facemasks for football, about 200,000 injuries to the mouth and face have been prevented each year," says Dr. Hewlett.

ADA and AAP also encourage parents to make dental exams a regular part of their children's back-to-school routine, including completion of all health examinations and necessary immunizations in time for the new school year.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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