Summertime Dental Injury Prevention

School is out and summertime is here! It is the time of year when kids around the Roanoke Valley are busy with outdoor activities and sports. It is also the time of year when many dental injuries occur. Families are busier with summertime sports activities than in the past due to the numerous organized sports in the area. The popularity of organized youth sports and the high level of competitiveness have resulted in a significant number of dental and facial injuries. Over the past decade, approximately 46 million youths in the United States were involved in “some form of sports”. It is estimated that 30 million children in the US participate in organized sport programs.

All sporting activities have an associated risk of facial injuries due to falls, collisions, contact with hard surfaces, and contact from sports-related equipment. Sports accidents reportedly account for 10-39% of all dental injuries in children. Children are most susceptible to sports-related oral injury between the ages of 7 and 11 years. The majority (50-90%) of sport-related dental and facial injuries affect the upper lip, and upper front teeth. Although some sports-related traumatic injuries are unavoidable, most can be prevented. Helmets, facemasks, and mouthguards have been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of dental and facial trauma. The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation in 2005 estimated the cost to treat a “knocked out” permanent tooth and provide follow up care is between $5000 and $20,000 over a lifetime. Traumatic dental injuries have additional indirect costs that include children’s hours lost from school and parents’ hours lost from work.

Properly fitted mouth guard use has been shown to reduce the oral-facial injury rate significantly in sports where it has been mandated. For example, prior to the use of properly fitted mouthguards and facemasks, over 50% of football players’ injuries were oral-facial. They now represent less than 1% of injuries. NFHS currently mandates the use of mouthguards in football, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling. By providing cushioning between the upper and lower teeth, mouthguards also may reduce the incidence or severity of jaw displacement injuries as well as the potential for
concussions. Due to the continual shifting of teeth in orthodontic therapy, the process of “shedding” baby teeth, and the eruption of permanent teeth, a custom-fabricated mouthguard may not fit the young athlete soon after the mouthguard is made. By anticipating required space changes, a custom fabricated mouth guard may be made to endure several sports seasons.

The position of the Academy for Sports Dentistry is that to be adequate, a mouthguard must be properly fitted and properly worn. In order to ensure a proper fit, a mouthguard is best fitted by a dental professional. It is generally accepted that a custom fitted mouthguard fabricated over a dental cast of the athlete’s teeth will give the best fit. A mouthguard made by a dental professional can also tailor the mouthguard to the demands of the athlete and the sport. Speech requirements, individual occlusal differences and relative dental and concussion injury risks of each sport can only be customized by fabricating an individual mouthguard. It is difficult to see how an over- the-counter mouthguard can fill all of an athlete’s requirements without being checked and adjusted by an informed dental professional.

Have a great summer and enjoy the many sports activities for kids in the area. Most sports related injuries can be prevented with proper use of safety equipment and proper fitting mouthguards. You can find additional information about mouthguards and dental injuries on our website at or contact our office at (540)-989-3639.

Corey J. Sheppard, D.D.S., is a licensed Pediatric Dental Spet. Dr. Sheppard earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Detroit Mercy, and two additional residencies including a one year General Practice Residency with the U.S. Navy, and 2 year Pediatric Dental Specialty Residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. Pediatric Dentists A. Scott Anderson, III, D.D.S. and Corey J. Sheppard, D.D.S. practice at Anderson & Sheppard, Dentistry for Children and Adolescents, located at 3650 Colonial Ave, Roanoke. Phone: (540)-989-3639.


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