Watching the Cubs playing at Fenway Park on television this past weekend, what caught my eye was the protective gear being worn by one of the Red Sox. As he returned to first base after hitting a single, Mookie Betts briefly removed his mouth guard.
As April was coming to an end, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons couldn’t have chosen a better poster boy than one of MLB’s top five players for its National Facial Protection Month.
Co-sponsored by the Academy of Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Orthodontics and the American Dental Association, the campaign featured a poster with a headline asking, “When do you need a mouth guard?”
The provided answer?
“Any time you participate in sports!”
Listed in bold were, baseball, basketball, soccer and football. However, so were gymnastics, inline skating, skiing and biking?
The poster offers logic impossible to refute.
In part, it reads, “Chances are if you play in organized sports, your coach may already require that you wear a mouth guard. But did you know that even when you’re riding your bike or getting a game together with the kids in your neighborhood that it’s a good idea to wear a mouth guard? Any time you’re engaged in an activity where your face can come in contact with something hard — say another player, a ball, the pavement, or any hard object — it’s a time that you should be wearing a mouth guard!”
If the threat of serious, painful, and disfiguring injury doesn’t convince, perhaps economics will.
“Repairing the problems that happen to teeth and jaws is uncomfortable for the patient,” the poster goes on, "and can cost thousands of dollars. Many injuries can be far less severe or even prevented altogether by the simple act of wearing a mouth guard! Mouth guards are a smart investment in your dental health.”
The cost of that investment?
Products available in sporting goods stores and online range in price from $3.99 to $20.99. For those more concerned with perfect fit and comfort, dentists will charge as little as $50.00 for a custom-made device.
Relatively small prices to pay compared to the physical and financial cost following an injury.
When injuries do occur, though, the AAOMS recommends the following:
For broken teeth:
• Save broken piece of tooth.
• Bring to an oral and facial surgeon for reattachment.
For a knocked out tooth (like the one suffered by the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas on Sunday in a playoff game with the Wizards):
• Seek immediate help from an oral and facial surgeon. Most teeth can be reimplanted if cared for properly.
• Find tooth and hold by crown only.
• Rinse tooth; do not rub. Avoid contact with root.
• Replace tooth in socket. Cover with gauze and bite down to stabilize. Or store tooth temporarily in cold milk, salt water or between cheek and gum.
• Do not allow tooth to dry out.
For a nasal fracture:
• Gently pack nose with gauze.
• Apply ice.
• Do not blow nose.
For more information, go to www.aaoms.org/media/april-is-national-facial-protection-month/informational-material.