April is National Facial Protection Month. It is the time for dentists to remind people about using safety devices to protect their face, head, and mouth against injuries. Mouthguards should be worn while engaging in any sport that could involve injury, such as basketball and volleyball, as well as football and hockey. Several years ago I treated an adult hockey player who played for a Long Island hockey team. He had all of his front teeth knocked out. He then recommended me to the rest of his team. I saw so many dental injuries that could have been prevented with a mouthguard. Helmets are also crucial to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. And don’t forget protective eyewear and face shields when appropriate. A mouthguard usually covers the upper teeth and can cushion a blow to the mouth, limiting the risk of fractured teeth and soft tissue injuries. A properly fitted mouthguard stays in place and allows the user to talk an breathe easily.
The ADA has more information on mouthguards at http://ada.org/2970.aspx including discussion of dental emergencies and the advantages and disadvantages of stock, boil-and-bite, and custom fitted mouthguards. Also look at my blog entry about mouthguards.