For both Wildcat and Cardinal basketball fans, this season is shaping up to be something quite special. I love not only basketball, but all sports in general and have been privileged to treat many patients who have gone on to successful athletic careers. After working so diligently to achieve that beautiful smile, I always want to make sure that all my patient’s teeth stayed perfectly aligned for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately accidents do occasionally happen where teeth are loosened, displaced, fractured or even knocked out due to a blow to the mouth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the seven million sports and recreation-related injuries that occur each year are sustained by youth between ages 5 and 24. The average high school baseball pitcher can throw a fast ball between 75-85 miles per hour (comparable to being hit by a speeding car) and cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports, accounting for 65% of all injuries in high school girls’ athletics. Despite the statistical risks, many kids are still not wearing any mouth protectors during sporting activities.
The American Association of Orthodontists is encouraging kids to “play it safe” and consistently wear mouth guards and other protective gear during competitions and practices. These devices can usually be easily adapted to fit over braces and other orthodontic appliances. Parents, coaches and athletes need to understand that many sports injuries to the mouth and teeth can be prevented or reduced by simply wearing a mouth guard. Your smile is worth protecting!