Mouth Guards Are a Key Part of Sports Gear

CLEVELAND, May 31 (UPI) — U.S. dentists caution injury risk is nearly two times greater in athletes not using mouth protection.

Members of the American Dental Association point to the recent case of a Chicago Blackhawks player who was struck in the mouth by a speeding puck and reportedly lost seven teeth.

“I dread picturing the degree of damage that the player might have sustained without wearing a mouth guard,” Dr. Matthew Messina, a Cleveland dentist, said in a statement.

Messina says a properly fitted mouth guard is an important piece of athletic gear that protects the mouth and cushions the blows that might cause broken teeth, or injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.

He suggests sports dentistry studies show those even in non-contact sports — such as gymnastics — benefit from using mouth guards and urges everyone — from children to adults — to wear a mouth guard during any recreational activity having mouth injury risks, including practice and training sessions.

Messina’s recommendations include ensuring the mouth guard:

– Fits comfortably and does not restrict speech or breathing. A dentist can ensure proper thickness and adequate protection in critical areas, based on the sporting activity.

– Is kept clean.

– Is replaced if it has holes or tears, becomes loose or, like other sports equipment, wears out.

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