Broken bones are temporary, missing teeth are forever
RALEIGH, N.C., (Sept. 25, 2012) — When thinking of a typical athlete’s uniform, a helmet, jersey, shoes and gloves might come to mind. Yet in today’s world of high-contact sports, Delta Dental of North Carolina urges athletes to always remember another important piece of equipment: a mouth guard.
“The body’s natural ability to mend a broken bone exists in almost every case,” said Dr. Jed Jacobson, chief science officer of Delta Dental of North Carolina. “Yet the loss of an adult tooth is as permanent as it comes.”
It is estimated that more than 46 million children in the United States play sports. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that 10 to 39 percent of dental injuries are a result of sports accidents.
“Young athletes are 60 times more likely to injure their teeth when they’re not wearing a mouth guard,” Jacobson added. “Wearing a mouth guard can mean the difference between a lifetime of dental woes and a healthy smile.”
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, high school athletes are required to wear mouth guards in football, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling.
Even with mouth guard mandates in place, a Delta Dental 2011 Children’s Oral Health Survey reported that 30 percent of child athletes do not wear a mouth guard during football games and practices. That number jumps to 70 percent for low contact sports such as soccer, basketball and baseball.
Dr. Jacobson recommends athletes participating in all sports wear a mouth guard.
“There are several mouth guard styles available,” he said. “The best is a custom-fit mouth guard where a dentist takes an impression of the teeth for an exact fit, which allows for better protection and comfort for the mouth. Other less expensive ‘boil and bite’ options are available in most sporting goods and retail stores.
Mouth guards are most effective when they are clean and maintained. Protect your investment by following these tips:
- Brush your teeth before using the mouth guard to keep food particles and bacteria at a minimum.
- Clean the mouth guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste after every use.
- Soak your mouth guard for 20 to 30 minutes in dental cleaning solution once a month.
- When not in use, store the mouth guard in a well-ventilated container.
- Heat can warp mouth guards. Help retain its shape by keeping your mouth guard out of hot cars and direct sunlight.
- Inspect the mouth guard for wear and tear after every use. Replace it or repair it when necessary.
For more information about sports dentistry and dental health, visit www.deltadentalnc.com.
About Delta Dental of North Carolina
Delta Dental of North Carolina, with its affiliates in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. In 2011, the enterprise paid out $2.2 billion for dental treatment for 8.6 million enrollees. Offices are located in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis and Greenwood, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Okemos and Farmington Hills, Mich.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.