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April is National Facial Protection Month

April 09, 2012

As dental professionals nationwide observe National Facial Protection Month, dentists can take the opportunity to remind their patients, both children and adults, about using safety strategies to protect themselves against injuries to the face, head and mouth.

 
“One fall or collision with a fellow biker could damage your smile, so it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Dr. Alice Boghosian, ADA consumer advisor spokesperson and a practicing dentist in the Chicago area. “Mouthguards aren’t just for football players or hockey players. Mouthguards should be worn while participating in any sport that involves the risk of injury, such as basketball and volleyball. Why risk damaging your gums or losing a tooth?”

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (www.aaoms.org), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (www.aapd.org), the American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org) and the Academy for Sports Dentistry (www.academyforsportsdentistry.org) sponsor the annual National Facial Protection Month. The organizations encourage children and adults to take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries common in those who participate in sports or have an active lifestyle.

The AAOMS encourages use of helmets during a variety of sports and activities, including riding bicycles, scooters and motorcycles; or playing baseball, soccer or lacrosse. An AAOMS news release states that nearly half of children 14 and under who are hospitalized for bicycle-related injuries are diagnosed with brain injuries, and helmets can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent and brain injury by 88 percent.

The dental organizations also advise athletes and outdoor enthusiasts to use protective eyewear and face shields when appropriate.

Dental professionals have long encouraged patients to use protective mouthguards during sports and recreational activities such as rollerblading and skateboarding.

Mouthguards, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, according to the ADA. A properly fitted mouthguard will stay in place and be easy for users to talk and breathe while wearing.

Dental professionals and patients can find more information on mouthguards, including treating dental emergencies, the ADA’s official statement on mouthguards, the advantages and disadvantages of stock, boil-and-bite and custom-fitted mouthguards and more.

The March issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association features a special “For The Dental Patient” one-page resource on mouthguards. To view the full text version or download the PDF document suitable for photocopying and distribution to patients.