ADA facial protection

April is National Facial Protection Month.

CHICAGO, Illinois--Warm weather brings thoughts of long bike rides, rollerblading, and skateboarding. Just as you would suit up in a helmet, kneepads, and wrist guards, don't forget a mouthguard, too, according to the American Dental Association.

"One fall or collision with a fellow biker could damage your smile, so it's better to be safe than sorry," said Dr. Alice Boghosian, ADA consumer advisor spokesperson and a practicing dentist in the Chicago area.

"Mouthguards aren't just for football players or hockey players. Mouthguards should be worn while participating in any sport that involves the risk of injury, such as basketball, volleyball, or gymnastics. Why risk damaging your gums or losing a tooth?"

National Facial Protection Month in April 2012 offers dental professionals the opportunity to encourage children and adults to use protective mouthguards during sports and certain recreational activities such as rollerblading and skateboarding.

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Mouthguards, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, according to the ADA. A properly fitted mouthguard will stay in place and be easy for users to talk and breathe while wearing.

There are three types of mouthguards:

-- Stock mouthguards are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often do not fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
-- Boil and bite mouthguards are available at many sporting goods stores, and offer a better fit than stock mouthguards. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of the mouth. Follow the directions carefully to avoid a poor fit.
-- Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by a dentist in a dental office or a dental laboratory based on a dentist's instructions. An impression is taken of the teeth and a mouthguard is created using the model. Custom-fitted mouthguards are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized they can offer a better fit than anything you can buy off the shelf.

"Choose the mouthguard that feels comfortable in your mouth. If you don't like the way it feels, you won't wear it," said Dr. Boghosian. "If you aren't sure what type of mouthguard to buy, just ask your dentist."

To learn more about mouthguards, visit ADA.org.

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