With students returning to school and to the athletic fields for the fall season, it’s important to remind parents, coaches and athletes why they should wear mouth guards during practice and competition. Proper mouth and head gear can protect athletes from serious injuries in various sports – ranging from football and soccer to lacrosse and baseball and beyond. For athletes who wear braces, mouth guards are even more important, as they help protect orthodontic devices and ensure orthodontic care is not disrupted by injury.

Mouth guards won’t break your budget, usually selling for around $5.

At Grace & Bowman Orthodontics in Fort Walton Beach and Niceville, we can help parents and young patients who take part in sports select mouth guards that will best protect athletes with braces or other orthodontic devices.

The American Association of Orthodontists encourages use of mouth guards by everyone who plays a competitive sport or those who love outdoor recreation, including biking, skateboarding and other activities that may place athletes at risk of injury.

Football players have used mouth guards for decades, but athletes in most sports should also use them.

Wearing the right protective gear can prevent numerous injuries. At Grace & Bowman, we want coaches, parents and athletes to make sure mouth guards are worn properly and consistently. The one play an athlete forgets to put in his or her mouth guard could be the play that leads to injury.

Mouth guards help cushion blows that could lead to cracked teeth or other serious dental problems. Head gear is also important, especially for cyclists and other athletes that risk hitting their heads on hard surfaces.

Wearing helmets can help save lives and protects athletes from major head trauma that can be debilitating and life-changing.

According to the AAO, helmets should be worn if you are:

  • Cycling.
  • In-line skating.
  • Skateboarding.

Face guards, which are typically made from plastic or metal, also can be attached to baseball helmets for increased protection.

Professional athletes in many major sports relay on mouth guards for protection.

Patrick Corbin, a pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball, wears a mouth guard when he takes the mound. The big leaguer has joined forces with the AAO to educate athletes of all ages about the importance of mouth guards and improved facial safety equipment in sports.

The American Dental Association also recommends that young athletes wear mouth guards. The association reports that studies of mouth guard users, and those who don’t wear mouth guards, have repeatedly revealed that mouth guards offer the best protection against sports injuries to teeth and soft tissue. Association officials said mouth guards are resilient and provide a protective surface to ease impact forces, thus reducing the severity of traumatic injury to hard and soft tissue.

So whether you play soccer, football, field hockey or baseball, remember how vital it is to wear mouth guards, helmets and other safety equipment to prevent injuries.

Wearing the equipment could save your life.