In a few weeks thousands of young athletes will head to the soccer field with their mandatory shin guards and spikes, but few will be wearing mouth guards, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that soccer is among the leading causes of oral-facial and dental injuries in all of sports. To combat this growing sports-injury problem, particularly the increase in concussions among young people, First Choice Dental Group will sponsor the third annual GameFace Week to increase understanding about the importance of wearing properly fitting mouth guards. The GameFace Mouth Guard program includes a significant discount on custom-fit mouth guards for any Dane County teen at any of the 10 First Choice Dental offices.
"Very few soccer players wear mouth guards," says Dr. Rob Bradley, a dentist with First Choice Dental Group. "It only takes an extra second or two to put in your mouth guard and the cost is negligible versus the cost of an injury. We'd like to see more parents and athletes opt for the protection and the peace of mind that it provides. It just makes sense for kids to wear a mouth guard."
Mouth guard use is mandatory in "contact" sports such as football and hockey. And while head and mouth injuries are a leading cause of injuries in youth athletics, soccer players are not required to wear mouth guards. Yet, studies show that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer damage to their mouth, teeth and jaws without a protective mouth guard. For soccer, the statistics are staggering. Head and facial injuries account for 4.9 percent to 22 percent of soccer injuries, of which approximately 20 percent are concussions.
Dr. Bradley compares First Choice Dental's efforts to build awareness about the importance of mouth guard use to the bike helmet safety push that's gotten stronger over the past two decades. "Among adults, very few of us remember wearing a bike helmet as kids. But most parents wouldn't think of putting their child on a bike without one. Mouth guards are equally important when it comes to keeping young athletes safe on the field, on the court or in the stadium."
Two years ago, First Choice Dental Group launched the GameFace Mouth Guard program to build awareness about the importance of wearing a properly fitting mouth guard. The GameFace Mouth Guard Program is designed to educate parents, coaches and players that simply wearing a mouth guard can prevent tooth injury, concussions and a host of other head traumas. To date, the GameFace Mouth Guard program has outfitted hundreds of student athletes and more than 20 local athletics teams with custom-fit mouth guards.
GameFace Week Promotes Sports Safety
First Choice Dental celebrates sports safety with "GameFace Week" March 14-18. GameFace Week kicks off the spring sports season, and during this week, First Choice Dental offers $50 off the normal $200 price of a custom-fit mouth guard for anyone who calls to schedule mouth guard fitting appointments for athletes ages 14-18. Individuals, parents or coaches can contact any First Choice Dental office to schedule appointments.
A portion of the proceeds from all mouth guard purchases at First Choice Dental goes toward the Millennium Soccer Club, which funds soccer programs for low-income children in the Madison community. In addition, as part of its effort to build awareness about the importance of wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard, each of the 10 First Choice Dental Group offices sponsors one student athletic team each sports season. Teams can even have their mouth guards made in their team's colors. The process involves just two quick appointments and mouth guards are typically ready within two weeks of the fitting.
"Soccer is one of the leading sports for head and mouth injuries, as well as concussions," says Bradley. "We hope to help prevent some of those injuries with the GameFace Mouth Guard program."
Young Kids Need Mouth Guards, too
Custom-fit mouth guards protect the smiles of teenage athletes whose permanent teeth are set, but there is also a need to protect young mouths and teeth. "Habits like wearing a bike helmet and twice-daily tooth brushing are formed when kids are young. We want to get young athletes started safely by wearing mouth guards, and keep them safe for as long as they play sports," says Dr. Bradley.
After extensive testing of several stock, and boil-and-bite mouth guard brands, First Choice Dental Group recommends Under Armour Performance Mouthwear(R) boil-and-bite mouth guards for kids as young as 5 years old. "The custom-fit mouth guards that we make in our lab are great for older kids, but young kids need to be wearing mouth guards, too. From our perspective, a high-quality boil-and-bite mouth guard is important for young mouths," says Bradley. "The GameFace Mouth Guard Program is about keeping all athletes safe. We've tested a lot of mouth guards, and feel good about recommending the Under Armour line of mouth protection." First Choice Dental has a full selection of mouth guards available in their offices so that all athletes can stay safe. And local sports programs benefit, since a portion of all mouth guard purchases goes to the Millennium Soccer Club.
"We love the fact that with the partnership with Millennium Soccer Club, and its parent organization MAYSA (Madison Area Youth Soccer Association), we're helping to keep kids throughout the community safe, as well as keep them active and having fun."
First Choice Dental Group is proud to participate in an effort to increase the safety of youth athletes by building awareness of mouth guard use through the GameFace Mouth Guard program. To protect the smile of your life and Learn more about the GameFace Mouth Guard program or stop in to any of our offices today to get your game face on!