Endodontists urge kids to 'watch their mouths'

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NEW YORK (Reuters) March 27 As kids everywhere "spring into sports," the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) is urging all young athletes to "watch their mouths" and wear a mouthguard for every sport, including spring sports typically thought of as "non-contact" sports like soccer, softball, baseball, and even gymnastics.

Traumatic injury to the teeth and knocked out teeth are most often associated with football or hockey, but spring sports, such as soccer and baseball, can present just as big a risk, the AAE notes in a statement issued Thursday.

The association points out that soccer players are roughly eight times more likely than football players to suffer mouth injuries and nearly one in five baseball players will experience a dental injury. Mouthguards prevent an estimated 200,000 injuries a year.

"Mouthguards are not just for kids that play rough contact sports," Shepard S. Goldstein, AAE president and an endodontist from Framingham, Massachusetts said. "It is essential that children's teeth be protected from dental injury when they play any physical sport."

"The AAE wants athletes, coaches and parents to know that mouthguard use is imperative for all sports."

There are three types of mouthguards: The off-the-shelf "one-size-fits-all" mouthguard; the mouth-formed "boil-and-bite" mouthguard; and the dentist-made custom mouthguard.

While custom mouth guards offer the best protection, using any type of mouthguard helps to reduce the chance of injury to the teeth, according to the AAE. If a tooth is knocked out, the association suggests taking the following steps to help boost the odds of saving the tooth:

  • Pick up the tooth by the chewing surface, not the root.
  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse with water.
  • Reposition the tooth in the socket, if possible.
  • Keep the tooth moist.
  • See an endodontist within 30 minutes.

When using mouthguards, it's important to properly maintain and clean them to prevent any possible infections.

The AAE's mouthguard campaign is part of a larger initiative -- the 2008 Root Canal Awareness Week campaign -- which takes place March 30 to April 5.

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