Helmets Matter

Adults and children alike benefit from safety equipment

Scooters made a big comeback last year. This year they are out in full force once again. Kids and adults are using them recreationally and as a means of transportation to and from school and work. They are all the rage and lots of fun! With such widespread popularity, however, comes a downside. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, from January 2001 through September 2001, more than 84,000 emergency room-treated injuries occurred due to scooter riders.

The month of April will see more and more people dusting off their in-line skates, bicycles, and scooters and cruising the great outdoors. Dental specialists such as pediatric dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and orthodontists will consequently treat the injuries of many of their sports-minded patients. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists, want people to enjoy their activities and take precautions as well. That is why these three specialties, recognized by the American Dental Association are sponsoring “April is National Facial Protection Month.”

Helmets matter

Whether riding a scooter, bicycle or motorcycle, or playing rugby, baseball or lacrosse, the AAO, AAOMS, and AAPD urge the public to wear helmets. To use your head you have to protect it first. Any activity where your head is at risk, is one in which a helmet should be worn. In the sport of baseball, it is estimated that batting helmets with face guards may prevent, reduce or lessen the severity of nearly 4,000 facial injuries.
There are numerous helmet manufacturers so, finding headgear that suits your needs is fairly simple.

Mouth guards make a difference

According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, children, high-school athletes and college athletes will have more than five million teeth knocked out in sporting activities this year. The simple act of wearing a mouth guard, properly fitted, could prevent this along with other traumatic facial injuries.

In football, where mouth guards are required, less than 1% of injuries involve teeth and the oral cavity. In basketball, where mouth guards are not required, nearly 35% of injuries involve teeth or the oral cavity. The ADA estimates more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented each year by sports mouth guards. Sadly, estimates show that only
7% of school-age children who play baseball or softball wear mouth guards all or most of the time. In soccer, it is estimated that only 4% of school-age players wear headgear, only 7% wear mouth guards, and nearly 4,000 players are treated by doctors annually.

Properly fitted mouth guards absorb shock when an individual takes a fall or receives a blow. Teeth are frequently saved, jaws are protected from breaks, and concussions are prevented. Mouth guards also protect against neck injuries and central nervous system injuries by decreasing the force transmitted through the jaw joint to the base of the skull.

Getting the right fit

What is the right fit? An effective mouth guard holds the teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. Depending on the athlete’s bite, it should cover either the upper or lower teeth as well as the gums. Each athlete needs to determine which kind of mouth guard is appropriate. There are three styles available.

Stock mouth guards can be bought at most sporting goods stores and are the least expensive of the three styles. However, they are also the least effective because they only stay in place when the athlete’s mouth is closed.

The “boil and bite” mouth guard is the most popular style. Made of rubber, the “boil and bite” guard is a mouth-formed device, actually boiled in water by a dental professional. After the device is cooled, it is placed in the user’s mouth for use.

Custom-made mouth guards are the best protection for athletes. Custom guards are more comfortable than the other two styles and can be designed for a specific sport or activity. They can also accommodate previous injuries. Quarterbacks, for example, find these to be the best choice as they can shout out plays to teammates easily. The guard rests on the lower teeth while providing protection to the top teeth when the mouth is closed.

When not being used, mouth guards should be stored in a container to prevent bacteria growth. Further, an athlete should clean his/her mouth guard before each wearing.

Do not be a victim

Be smart. Protect yourself and loved ones from easily preventable injuries. You will save face and save money by wearing sports safety equipment. Do not let an injury sideline you from your favorite activities. Your dental professionals care about your health and want you to think before you head outside this spring.

Author Notes:

Terry Bilt contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.all-motorcycle-helmets.com.  A buyers guide to all types of motorcycle helmets plus shields, googles, custom and wired radio helmets.

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