Five of the nation’s top dental associations are reminding athletes of all ages to play it safe by wearing a mouth guard during recreational and organized sports this spring.
The Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the American Dental Association (ADA) are collaborating to promote National Facial Protection Month in April. National Facial Protection Month strives to raise public awareness and remind parents/caregivers, coaches and athletes to play it safe while playing sports.
Research estimates that about 2 percent of all children or adolescents who participate in sports eventually will suffer a facial injury severe enough to require medical attention.
“A properly fitted mouth guard is an essential piece of any athlete's protective equipment,” says Paul Nativi, past president of ASD. “Mouth guards protect the teeth from being knocked out, broken and displaced. Mouth guards prevent injuries to the bone and tissues around the teeth. They also help prevent injuries to the mandible (lower jaw) and temporomandibular joint in the jaw. Tooth loss incurs a tremendous financial, emotional, and psychological expense. Protect what you have - wear a properly fitted mouth guard.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Policy on Prevention of Sports-related Orofacial Injuries, sports accidents reportedly account for 10-39 percent of all dental injuries in children and are most often caused by direct hits with a hard object, such as a puck or ball, and player-to-player contact.
The dental associations offer the following five tips to help prevent facial injury:
- Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports: Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.
- Wear a helmet: Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.
- Wear protective eyewear: Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports.
- Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin: Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.
- Make protective gear mandatory for all sports: Athletes who participate in football, hockey and boxing are required to wear mouth guards. Mouth guards have been proven to significantly decrease the risk of oral injuries, and should be considered standard in all sports, particularly:
- equestrian events
- field events
- field hockey
- ice hockey
- inline skating
- martial arts
- shot put
- water polo
This weekend is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This Saturday, Sept. 29, people can bring their unwanted or expired medications — including opioid painkillers — to disposal sites across the country.
The American Dental Association is supporting this effort, and encouraging all dentists to talk with their patients and staffs about safely securing and disposing of unused, unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals.
"This is yet another way that we can be leaders in our communities and do our part to help improve drug abuse awareness," Chicago Dental Society president John Gerding said. "The increase in drug use among our middle through high school aged children is alarming, and an event such as Saturday's is one more step in our battle to stay on top of this problem."
Prescription medications are now the most commonly abused drugs among children ages 12–13, and second to marijuana among young adults, according to 2010 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Studies show that a majority of these drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
Dentists and their staff can help address this problem:
- Tell patients or their caregivers about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
- Encourage patients to visit the Medicine Abuse Project at www.medicineabuseproject.org, where they can learn how to safely secure, monitor and dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications.
- Have a list of local DEA-approved prescription drug disposal sites. You can search by zip code online.
On the last Take-Back Day, April 28, Americans brought a record 276 tons of prescription drugs for proper disposal to more than 5,600 locations.
"Drug-seeking behavior has changed dramatically in recent years," said ADA President William Calnon, in a prepared release. “For that reason, we are also urging dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing in the context of modern-day drug seeking behavior."
From the ADA
"Based on all the information to date, both from our own testing
as well as reports of other analyses, we are confident that no
measurable levels of lead are released from dental crowns made from
dental porcelain typical of available sources," explains Clifton
Carey, Ph.D., administrative director, PRC.
He added, "Moreover, we intentionally added lead to a separate
sample of dental crowns and found that even up to 500 ppm of lead
levels, no measurable amount was released. This was a much higher
total concentration than any laboratory-fabricated crown
Questions were raised in February 2008 about lead in dental
restoratives such as crowns and bridges when an Ohio woman
speculated in a news report that the problems she experienced with
her bridge might be because of its manufacture at a dental
laboratory in China. At a time when other products from China were
under scrutiny, the local news station investigated the issue and
sent the bridge to a local laboratory for lead testing. The station
then had several dental crowns manufactured in China tested, and
one crown reportedly tested positive for lead. At the time however,
no accepted standardized method existed to measure lead content of
dental materials such as porcelain, or whether lead is released
from dental crowns in the mouth.