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Protecting athletes' teeth during Facial Protection Month

March 19, 2018

By Michelle Manchir

Group shot of Texas A&M dental students
Protecting smiles: Providing athletes with mouthguards is one way dentists help protect their patients' mouths. Dr. Danette McNew, front row in the white jacket, and dental students from the Texas A&M College of Dentistry made custom mouthguards in March for high school lacrosse players.
April is National Facial Protection Month and an apt time to remind dental professionals about their role in helping protect patients from facial injuries while participating in sports.

The ADA supports the inclusion of an oral evaluation by a dentist and counseling regarding oral facial protection as part of the preparticipation physical exam required for high school athletes, according to the ADA House of Delegates Resolution 72H-2016.

Dental professionals can learn more about creating custom mouthguards, talking with patients about facial protection, becoming a dentist for a sports team and earn continuing education credit at the Academy for Sports Dentistry's 36th Annual Symposium scheduled for June 28-30 in New Orleans.

Dr. Danette McNew, president of the Academy for Sports Dentistry and a dentist in Rockwall, Texas, teaches third- and fourth-year dental students custom mouthguard fabrication at Texas A&M College of Dentistry in Dallas. In preparation for National Facial Protection Month, Dr. McNew in March led a group of dental students in creating custom mouthguards for dozens of high school-aged lacrosse players.  

"This is a great opportunity for our dental students to reach out to the community and share their expertise learned from our course at the dental school," said Dr. McNew. The mouthguards are in most cases the first-ever custom-fitted mouthguards the high school athletes have received, she said, adding that the student athletes love the comfort of the mouthguard and are excited that it features their team logo and color.

Dr. McNew said the Team Dentist course at the Academy for Sports Dentistry's Annual Symposium, which is in conjunction with the National Athletic Trainers Association Convention, prepares dentist to be providers for athletes at all levels of experience, from elementary school-aged children to professional athletes.

For more information about the symposium or to register visit AcademyForSportsDentistry.org.

The ADA also offers information about mouthguards. To visit the ADA Science Institute's Oral Health Topics page on mouthguards, visit ADA.org and hover over "Science Research" and then select "Oral Health Topics."

Dentists can also refer their patients to the ADA's consumer website, MouthHealthy.org, for additional information about mouthguards.

The ADA's Mouthguards and Sports Safety brochure highlights the role mouthguards play in helping prevent mouth and jaw injuries for patients. The brochure, available at ebusiness.ada.org, is available for a 15 percent discount until May 31 with promo code 18118.