By Dr. Aaron Sarathy, DMD
As you suit up for outdoor fun this spring, don’t forget to protect your face and head! Spring often brings a flood of patients suffering with head, mouth and facial injuries resulting from sports-related accidents to doctors’ offices and even emergency rooms.
The best defense is a good offense — have mouth guards on your team! A 2009 survey of parents conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists found that mouth guard use is low — only 33%, even though one of four parents surveyed said their child had sustained an injury during an organized sport that resulted in a trip to the emergency room. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics echo these findings. The commission’s 2006 estimated emergency room-treated injuries for youths under age 15 reveal that the largest percentage of injuries is associated with the head, face, mouth or ears. Leading the pack in sheer numbers are bicycle injuries with 34 percent of the nearly 240,000 injuries associated with the head and face. Just under half of baseball’s 85,000 injuries were associated with these anatomical areas. Just by wearing a properly fitted mouth guard, many of these accidents and traumatic facial injuries could be prevented. In fact, the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety says that athletes are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when not wearing a protective mouth guard. The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. Despite this fact, nearly one-third of parents do not take the same safety precautions during practice as they do for a game. It is no real surprise then that 62 percent of sports-related injuries occur during practice sessions. An effective mouth guard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. Depending on your bite, it should cover either the teeth or the gums. The most comfortable and effective mouth guard is one that is custom made.
They may look funny but helmets work! Whether you are riding a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle, or playing baseball, soccer or lacrosse, wear a properly fitted helmet. A well-fitted helmet should sit on top your head in a level position, covering the forehead. It should not rock back and forth or side to side. Pay attention to the chinstrap. It should fit around your ear and under your chin comfortably. How well do helmets work? According to Safe Kids USA, universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4-15 could prevent between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries and between 18,000 and 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually! Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent and brain injury by 88 percent!
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Dr. Aaron P. Sarathy, DMD
Board Certified Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Port Royal Oral & Facial Surgery
www.facebook.com/Port Royal Oral and Facial Surgery