If you had to guess, what sports do you think cause the most dental damage when it comes to oral health for kids?
Yes, football has long-been a looming culprit of knocked-out teeth and bleeding mouths, and with football season quickly approaching, it's time to suit up against injuries.
Children are most susceptible to sports-related oral injuries between the ages of 7 and 11, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. While youth programs have updated preventive measures to protect kids against harmful blows, it often comes down to parents ensuring that their children wear things like mouth guards during games and practices.
Remind children that a smile is a precious thing. Once adult teeth come in, there are no extra chances - a mouth guard can spell the difference between a gap-toothed grin and pretty pearly whites. The American Dental Association estimated that the use of mouth guards by athletes has prevented an average of 200,000 injuries per year in high school and college football alone. So as kids start taking to the field, ingrain the habit of wearing a mouth guard to prevent his or her mouth from injury.
Mouth guards come in a variety of brands and sizes, but dentists recommend that athletes wear a custom mouth guard. Their counterpart, stock mouth guards, can be found at sporting good stores, but since they are not customized for individual shape and size, they require a constant bite in order to keep them in place. This disrupts talking and breathing for most users.
Dr. Monica Assad, a Detroit-based sports dentist, warned that generic stock mouth guards offer a false sense of protection. She said that she doesn't want parents to send their children off to a game or practice with a cheap generic mouth guard that won't prevent extensive and expensive damage to children's jaws and teeth. Also, be sure to clean customized mouth guards to stop the buildup of smelly bacteria that can cause bad breath.
The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation stated that the most prevalent kind of facial injuries in youth sports involve the mouth and teeth. And with the pain and costs they incur, oral health for kids is no light matter. The annual costs of all injuries, including orofacial injuries, sustained by young athletes have been estimated to be as high as $1.8 billion dollars, according to the AAPD.
Other sports-related injuries
Football isn't the only sport that spells trouble. Activities such as baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, wrestling, hockey, volleyball and gymnastics lag behind in injury protection for boys and girls, according to an AAPD report titled "Policy on Prevention of Sports-related Orofacial Injuries." Baseball and basketball have the highest incidence of dental injuries in children 7 to 17 years of age. More specifically, baseball triggered the most injuries within the 7- to 12-year-old age group, while basketball was the most frequent sport associated with dental injuries among 13- to 17?-year-olds.
Even leisure activities like skateboarding and rollerblading can benefit from protective equipment. A large national survey found that bicycling was the most common consumer sports activity related to dental injuries in children.
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