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Give Your Teeth a Sporting Chance

CHICAGO, Illinois – Oral, facial, eye, and head injuries to children have become increasingly common. They occur in many sports, not just in the traditionally recognized collision sports of football, hockey, and lacrosse. Youth baseball and softball now lead all sports in the number of oral, facial, eye, and head injuries. The AAPD recommends that all children participating in baseball or softball wear a helmet with a face shield.

During the 1970s the injury rates in football, hockey, and lacrosse decreased impressively because all players were required to wear a helmet, a faceguard, and a mouthguard. Recent reports of high school basketball injuries support the need for a mandatory mouthguard rule.

The athletic mouthguard is clearly one of the most effective pieces of equipment available with documented effectiveness against dental trauma and concussion. All mouthguards offer some measure of protection against injuries. Parents and athletes should recognize the types of mouthguards and limitations of each.

There are three main types of athletic mouthguards: the stock type, the mouth-formed type, and the custom-fitted type. Research has shown that the custom-fitted is clearly preferable to athletes when given a choice. Certain sports, such as football, with stop and go activity, may be able to utilize a less than optimally fitted mouthguard attached to the face protector. The custom-fitted mouthguard is much more desirable in sports with continuous action such as basketball and soccer.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

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