Break out the bike, the skateboard and the rollerblades … Spring is here … just don’t allow your kids to break their face while they’re at it. No doubt, they’re looking forward to dusting off their sports equipment and getting active outside again. April is facial protection month, so it’s important to be sure they hit the pavement (so to speak) safely.
Sure, they can be clunky and in the heat of summer, a little on the warm side. But they can also save your child’s life. In recreational sports where research has been conducted for years to determine safety rates, helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent. With those kinds of numbers, you’d have to be silly not make sure your child never leaves the house without one.
The type of helmet your kids should wear depends on the type of sport they’re involved in. Here’s a great guide from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that covers the exact type of helmet that should be worn for a host of sports, along with general instructions on obtaining proper fit. It’s also important to note there are special recommendations for children’s helmets, so be sure to inquire about recommendations specific to your little ones.
The American Dental Association estimates “a full third of all dental injuries are sports related and that, the use of a mouthguard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year.” And, the risks of playing sports without the necessary protection aren’t just related to teeth loss: a harsh impact to the jaw can even wreak havoc on your little one’s jaw, or cause a concussion that could have otherwise been avoided.
If your kids are involved in any sort of sport activity where contact with another player – or the ground – is possible, you’ll want to ask your dentist about obtaining a custom-made mouth guard. Such mouth guards are affordable and last several years with good care. They’re your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your children’s teeth during sporting events.
Custom-made guards are far superior to the “boil and bite” guards you’ve probably seen in the local sporting goods store and are made using a process similar to that used when making an orthodontic retainer. Essentially, a custom mold is made of the teeth, and the resulting product is a guard that fits the mouth and teeth like a tailored suit would fit your little one’s body. Variations in the preparation and specifications of custom guards are dependent on the type of sports they’re involved in, as well as their age and overall dental health. A consultation with your dentist can provide you with the insight you need to decide which kind of appliance is the best for your child’s needs so they can have fun out there this spring and be safe.
Dr. Pradeep Adatrow is the only practicing Board Certified Periodontist and Prosthodontist in the Southern United States. In addition to devotedly serving the Advanced Dental and TMJ Center, he also serves as the Director of Surgical Prosthodontics at the University of Tennessee.
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