Protecting children from facial injuries in sports
Every year parents bring their children to the emergency room for everything from knocked out teeth to broken jaws or other facial injuries suffered while playing sports. Jeff Holloway, MD, shared four tips on protecting children from facial injuries in sports with simple safety precautions.
“Many people think they’re immune to the types of serious injuries that people warn them about if they don’t wear a helmet or mouthguard. They think it’s not going to happen to them. Unfortunately, there’s no predicting when an injury is going to occur and who it will affect. Often the results of an injury are even more devastating when you realize that the injury could have easily been prevented,” said Dr. Holloway.
According to the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy of Sports Dentistry and American Association of Orthodontists, children ages 7–11 are most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries, and athletes are 60% more likely to suffer harm to teeth if not wearing a mouthguard.
These injuries are most often caused by direct hits with a hard object, such as a puck or ball, and player-to-player contact. Whether or not your children are engaged in organized sports, they can still sustain serious facial injuries just by playing outside – especially if they’re not wearing proper protection during spirited activities.
“Traumatic injuries occur in an instant. They can be devastating and take weeks to months to heal,” said Dr. Holloway.
Dr. Holloway shared these safety tips to remember during recreational and organized sports when protecting children from facial injuries in sports that can take the fun out of the game.
- Wear a mouthguard when playing or practicing contact sports. Mouthguards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury. Dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouthguards 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. While concussions can still occur, life-threatening injuries can be avoided.
- Use protective eyewear when appropriate. Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing certain sports such as racquetball.
- Wear a face shield. Hockey pucks, baseballs and other sports equipment can cause severe facial damage at any age.
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