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Mouth Guards

Prior to 1962, half of all high school football injuries were to the mouth and face. Today, mouth and face injuries account for only 1.4% of all high school football injuries. This remarkable reduction in mouth and face injuries is due to a simple preventive device - the mouth guard - along with a change in official game rules mandating their use and enforcement of the rule. Mouth guards do more than protect the teeth from being knocked out or fractured and the lips, cheeks, and tongue from being cut or bruised. They also reduce the likelihood of jaw bone fractures by absorbing the energy of blows to the face.

Why don't more amateur athletes use mouth guards? One reason is that many athletes don't know of the benefits that a mouth guard provides. Another is that their coaches don't encourage them to do so. Yet another reason is that mandatory mouth guard use is not part of the official rules for many sports. Some athletes object to mouth guard use because they complain that mouth guards are uncomfortable, fit poorly, or impair breathing or speech. Many of the complaints about mouth guards are attributable to improper design or fit and can be easily overcome by a professionally, custom-made mouth guard.

An estimated 5 million teeth are knocked out annually at sporting events. Unless mouth guard use is adopted by more sports, this number is sure to rise as more Americans become athletically active. Athletes of all ages are prone to these injuries, not just children. And these injuries are costly. The total costs for replacing a single knocked-out tooth can be more than 20 times the preventive cost of a professionally, custom-made mouth guard. So, before you play, see your dentist. Protect yourself and your children. Play hard and play smart! Sink your teeth into a mouth guard!

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