Mouthguards key to protecting kids who play sports

April is National Facial Protection Month and the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the ADA are reminding parents, coaches, and athletes to play it safe as they prepare for recreational and organized sports.

In particular, the organizations are emphasizing the value of mouthguards, especially customized ones, eyewear, face shields, and helmets.

Last year, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation forecasted that more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events. It also reported that athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth.

Yet in a survey by Impulse Research commissioned by the AAO in 2009, 67% of parents admitted that their children do not wear a mouthguard during organized sports. The survey found that 84% of children do not wear mouthguards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them, even though they may be required to wear other protective materials, such as helmets and shoulder pads.

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