Guarding Against Dental and Facial Injuries – National Facial Protection Month

Guarding Against Dental and Facial Injuries – National Facial Protection Month

It is important to keep your teeth protected during physical activity because that is the most likely time they will suffer damage. Your teeth aren’t just there for your smile—a complete set of chompers is necessary to bite, chew, and speak!

April is National Facial Protection Month. The American Dental Association is teaming up with the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry to spread awareness about the importance of using a mouthguard for dental protection in sports and other outdoor activities.

Sports Where Mouth and Facial Injuries are Most Likely

There are a few sports where players commonly wear mouthguards. This important tooth protection should be worn even during practice sessions with these intense physical activities:

  • Boxing. Because participants will hit each other in their faces extensively, wearing a mouth guard is absolutely essential. In fact, boxing is the only professional sport requiring mouthguards.
  • Football. Players wear helmets that provide a firm layer of facial protection. As an added precautionary measure, they are also required to wear mouth guards under the grills of their helmets, preventing the possibility of painful and inconvenient tooth injuries.
  • Martial arts. Mouth protection is necessary in the sparring ring. In Olympic sparring, the head is an area where a blow will score a point, making the face and mouth vulnerable to accidental injury.

The National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association also require mouthguards in ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse. Those sticks pose a real danger to the teeth!

While these are some sports where athletes commonly wear mouthguards, dentists recommend a mouthguard for any contact sport or activity that could lead to mouth injury. That includes everything from soccer and basketball to biking, skateboarding and surfing.

Parents and coaches are responsible for setting an important teeth-saving tone: mouthguards should be non-negotiable in any contact or high-velocity activity, whether it’s competitive or just for fun. Athletes who wear mouthguards are between 82% and 93% less likely to experience dental injuries like crown fractures and complete tooth displacement.

A mouthguard must fit properly to effectively reduce the risk of dental injuries. Sporting goods stores sell semi-fitted mouth guards that you boil and bite to conform to the shape of your teeth, but an even better idea is to visit your dentist to get a custom guard made specifically for your mouth. Keeping your bite pristine is an important part of any athletic activity.




How Athletes Can Keep Teeth Safe

Everyone should practice good dental hygiene, but athletes face a very unique risk. Depending on the exact sport you play, your jaw or face may be at risk of experiencing injury where your teeth could break or become dislodged entirely, so there are specific practices that should be followed so that you can hang onto all your teeth for much longer.


A mouthguard can do a lot of good if you participate in a contact sport like football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, or hockey. High school and college athletes should wear one of these at all times, including during both practices and actual games, since injuries can occur at anytime. Not only will tooth loss or damage cause pain, but it also costs a lot of money to replace your missing tooth with a crown or bridge.

Keep in mind that there are different types of mouthguards and the right one for you can vary depending on your sport and activity levels. You can likely go to any sporting goods store and find some standard mouthguards, but these are not going to be the best type of protection. Generic guards offer minimal protection, so you should instead get a mouthguard that is specifically designed to fit over your teeth. These can be obtained from most dental professionals.

What Happens When You Don’t Wear a Mouthguard?

Without a mouthguard, your teeth could easily get chipped, cracked, broken, or knocked out, which means you could pay thousands of dollars in replacement costs. Not only is there the financial weight of losing a tooth, but you will also need to spend hours in a dentist’s office and recovering from the procedure (which likely means missing some time out on the field). Thousands of injuries are prevented every year thanks to the use of mouthguards, so you should definitely wear one yourself.

Anyone who plays basketball, volleyball, rugby, soccer or other intense sports should always utilize a specialized faceguard. You would not play sports without a helmet, knee pads or other protective gear, and a mouthguard should be viewed the same way.