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Put on Your GameFace for Sports

Put on Your GameFaceTM For Fall Sports: Head and mouth injuries leading cause of injury in young athletes

MADISON, Wis. (July 19, 2010) - Backpack, check. Notebooks, check. Pencils, check. You are ready for the academics of back to school, but what about the athletics? Hundreds of student athletes will be gearing up for fall sports activities and while the shin guards and the spikes are ready to go, most parents and athletes forget an important piece of equipment: the mouth guard. Head injuries, due to trauma to the mouth or jaw while participating in youth athletics, is a leading cause of injuries in young athletes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), soccer is the second-leading cause of orofacial and dental injuries in sports, right behind basketball. A custom-fitted mouth guard can help combat this growing issue.

"Other than sports like football where a mouth guard is already required, very few student athletes or parents think about the need for mouth guards," says Dr. Bill Graf, a dentist with First Choice Dental Group. "It should be a part of the equipment check when getting ready for the athletic season."

GameFace Week
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. During "GameFace Week" July 26-30, individuals, parents or coaches can contact any First Choice Dental office to schedule fitting appointments to receive a complimentary custom-fit mouth guard for athletic teams in Madison and surrounding areas. First Choice Dental will provide up to 500 complimentary mouth guards for Madison area student athletes ages 14-18 who call during GameFace Week to schedule their upcoming appointments. Loyal teams can even have their GameFace mouth guards made in their team's colors, free of charge. A follow-up meeting with parents is then scheduled to be sure of a proper fit and to make any necessary adjustments. Teams can have their mouth guards in a couple of weeks and the process involves just two quick appointments.

"To date, First Choice Dental Group has supported roughly 15 area teams and hundreds of students through the GameFace program," says Graf. "Parents, coaches and even players have been very excited and appreciative about the safety aspects of the program."

Safety First
Head and mouth injuries are a leading cause of injuries in youth athletics. Studies show that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer damage to teeth without a protective mouth guard. The GameFace Mouth Guard Program is designed to spread the word that simply wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard can prevent tooth injury, concussions and other head traumas.

While it's mandatory for football players to wear mouth guards, soccer players are three times more likely to suffer dental injuries than football players are. This is due mainly to how mouth and facial injuries have dramatically decreased in football with the addition of required mouth guards. Prior to the use of properly fitted mouth guards and facemasks, more than 50% of football players' injuries were oral-facial. They now represent less than 1% of injuries. It is estimated by the American Dental Association that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone.

"We are seeing more and more head and mouth injuries from non-contact sports than ever before," says Graf. "It's safer, and a lot less expensive, to have a dentist design a professionally fitted mouth guard than it is to suffer the long-term consequences of lost or injured teeth."

For John Pollard of the Wildcat Basketball Club in Verona, the GameFace Mouth Guard program is a great solution for a very real safety issue.

"Our 6th grade girl's basketball team all wore GameFace mouth guards last season," says Pollard. "We just thought of the mouth guards as part of the uniform. And since they were customized in our team colors, it was perfect. It's easy and painless to have a custom-fit mouth guard made, and it just good common sense."

Considerable cost
Youth athletes will lose as many as 5 million teeth due to sports-related injuries this year, according to The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation. The cost to replace these teeth is expensive, nearly $500 million annually.
A custom-fit mouth guard seems like a small investment when you look at the long-term dental care related to replacing teeth. "The GameFace Mouth Guard program is designed to protect the health of young athletes and safeguard their smiles," says Graf.

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 visit the First Choice Dental Group website at www.firstchoicedental.com/gameface.

First Choice Dental Group, SC, has 9 convenient locations throughout Dane, Green and Rock counties. With a commitment to lifetime treatment planning and total comfort dental care, First Choice Dental has received numerous accolades including, "Best Place to Work" and several "Best Dentist" awards. In addition to general dentistry, First Choice Dental offers orthodontics, endodontics, cosmetic dentistry, sedation and implant services. 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 GuardTM program. For more information about First Choice Dental Group, including a comprehensive list of doctors, office locations and details about dental services, visit www.firstchoicedental.com. Follow us on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/firstchoicedental.

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