The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 600,000 kids end up in the emergency room each year for sports-related dental accidents. And according to the CDC, a mouth guard may prevent 200,000 oral injuries a year and decrease injuries to the teeth by 60 percent.
"It's important that youth develop good habits in sports early on, including the use of mouth guards," said Dr. Katina Morelli, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. “Wearing a mouth guard not only protects the teeth and jaw, but it can also act as a shock absorber and help prevent other injuries.”
At “Children’s Dental Health Awareness Night” on Feb. 2 and throughout the month of February, Delta Dental of Illinois and the Chicago Wolves will promote the importance of good oral health habits, including mouth guard use, for children.
“We are excited to partner with Delta Dental of Illinois to help educate Illinois youth about the importance of mouth guards and dental health,” said Mike Gordon, Wolves President of Business Operations. “Like our players know all too well, the best way to prevent an injury to the mouth is by simply wearing a mouth guard.”
Although mouth guards are only mandatory for some youth sports, such as ice hockey, football and lacrosse, dental professionals recommend they be worn for all athletic activities where there is a strong potential for contact with other participants or hard surfaces.
But according to the 2011 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey, 68 percent of Americans report that their child does not wear a mouth guard at soccer, basketball, baseball and softball practices or games. And studies show that today’s basketball players are 15 times more likely to sustain an oral-facial injury than football players.
Mouth injuries in both hockey and football have dropped dramatically since mouth guards became mandatory. However, even in hockey – a sport requiring protective gear – only 44 percent of Americans report that their child wears a mouth guard at both practice and games and 22 percent wears a mouth guard just at games. According to Safe Kids USA, most organized sports-related injuries occur during practice rather than games.
“Parents need to encourage their young athletes to get in the habit of wearing mouth guards whenever they participate in sports, whether it’s for practice or games,” said Dr. Morelli.
About Delta Dental of Illinois
Delta Dental of Illinois (DDIL) is a not-for-profit dental service corporation that provides dental benefit programs to individuals and more than 5,000 employee groups throughout Illinois. DDIL covers 2 million individuals, employees and family members in these groups nationwide. DDIL is based in Naperville, Illinois and offers single-site administration and client services.