The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is proud to spread the message that simple and inexpensive protective sports gear – such as mouth guards – can make a difference in preventing sports injuries.
Young athletes can protect their face and smile while playing with the following tips from the AAO:
- Wear a mouth guard. Mouth guards can help prevent jaw, mouth and teeth injuries caused by a collision or fall. For athletes with braces, discuss with your orthodontist the best type of mouth guard for your sport.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact, and should be worn for activities like biking, skateboarding and in-line skating. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website to learn helmet laws in your state.
- Wear protective eyewear. Eyes are extremely vulnerable to injury during sports like soccer, baseball and hockey.
- Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin. Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can do severe damage.
Also, keep in mind the following:
- Stretch before and after a game or practice. This can reduce the risk of pulling or straining a muscle.
- Be observant even as a spectator. Stay alert while watching a game to avoid foul baseballs and flying hockey pucks coming your way.
- Use good judgment. If an activity carries risk of dental or facial injury, gear up. Without it, a pick-up game of basketball or flag football could result in a trip to the emergency room