Kids playing soccerBack to school also marks the start of many sport seasons. Joining a sports team is a great way for kids to stay active, learn about teamwork, and have some fun. As parents are preparing their kids to participate in sports this school year, they could use a few reminders from the dentist. Just as parents do their best to protect their children from physical sports injuries, they should also be considering how to protect their kids from dental injuries.

The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) reported that 13-39% of all dental injuries are sports related. Thankfully, these injuries are largely preventable, but prevention requires education.

What sports should parents be concerned about? The obvious answers are football, basketball, hockey, and wrestling. But participants of many other sports could benefit as well. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends using mouth protection for over 30 different sports. Soccer, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, and waterpolo are some of the less obvious sports included on the list. If a sport involves any risk of contact or collision, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, as dental injuries can cost thousands to repair and can result in permanent tooth loss.

Mouth protection comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. The first type of mouthguard is a stock mouthguard, which typically costs $2-3. These mouthguards are an inexpensive for those who might not otherwise use a mouthguard, but can be bulky and require frequent replacement. The next step up are “boil and bite” mouthguards that offer a semi-custom fit out of one’s home. These can be purchased in a kit for between $5 and $15. The best option is a custom-fit mouthguard from a dentist’s office. These are obviously the most expensive option, but are recommended for kids who play frequently or who need to protect orthodontic treatment. Helmets and face masks can also provide extra protection, and are required for some sports.

So how can you help parents see the importance of mouth protection? The first step is to have your staff ask kids and parents about their after-school activities. Not only will this help you connect with the patient, but it will also give you the opportunity to bring up the need for mouth protection if they offer sports. Additionally, you can offer custom mouthguards as a seasonal promotion as part of a postcard mailer campaign.

Regardless of how you spread the word, being aware of sports dental injuries is a great way to keep your patients healthy and happy.