Dentist to athletes: Protect your jaw

(WPRI) — Playing organized sports is fun, but it’s important to remember to take all necessary precautions in order to stay safe. Dr. Jennifer Kuchar, a dentist at Southcoast Smiles joined The Rhode Show on Monday to talk about the importance of wearing a mouth guard in sports.

“It definitely helps prevent any type of injury to the teeth or anywhere in the oral cavity,” said Dr. Kuchar. “The injury to teeth is 34% of all injuries.” Dr. Kuchar said mouth guards can even help prevent other injuries, such as concussions.

“A lot of times, a concussion can be caused by any type of contact… a lot of times it can be caused by getting hit under the chin, which causes the teeth to hit together violently and that can cause the concussion.”

Seekonk, MA – On Monday, April 15, members of Brown University’s rugby team received free custom-made mouth guards, courtesy of Southcoast Smiles.

The student athletes were personally invited to the practice by Dr. Jennifer Kuchar, who sees mouth guards as an integral piece of sporting equipment that is often overlooked.

Orofacial injuries, particularly dental injuries, suffered during sporting activities are staggering; The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation forecasted that more than 3 million teeth would be lost in sporting events this year.

Kuchar, an athlete herself who regularly participates in rugby and soccer, is happy to donate her time and the mouth guards, saying, “Studies have shown that wearing a mouth guard greatly reduces the rate of dental and jaw injuries sustained during participation in sports.”

Additionally, some studies have indicated that the use of a mouth guard in high contact sports, such as rugby and football, may actually reduce the rate and severity of concussions, a subject that has gained much attention in recent years.

Kuchar says that the cost of treating and replacing a single lost tooth is more than 20 times the cost of a custom mouth guard.

  • Dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports.
  • The National Youth Sports Foundation estimates that more than 3 million teeth will be lost in sporting activities this year
  • A 2009 survey found that 84% of children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them, even though they may be required to wear other protective materials, such as helmets and shoulder pads.
  • According to the American Dental Association, more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented annually in the U.S. by sports mouth guards.
  • Properly fitted mouth guards reduce the rate of dental and jaw injuries during sports and may also play a role in reducing the rate and severity of concussions

For more information, watch the video or visit the Southcoast Smiles website here.

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