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Shins for Grins: Local Shin Guard Drive aims to raise awareness about oral facial injuries in soccer


(Madison, WI) Soccer season's coming up, and First Choice Dental wants to keep soccer players safe. So this month First Choice Dental Group will sponsor Shins For Grins, a collection of new or gently used shin guards to benefit Millennium Soccer Club and its players who cannot afford to purchase shin guards. The event will run August 8 to September 5, 2011 at all Madison-area First Choice Dental locations. When you donate a pair of shin guards, you can enter for a chance to win a GameFace Mouth Guard - or "grin guard" --, designed by Under Armour and valued at $32.

According to Dr. Rob Bradley, a dentist with First Choice Dental, "we see increased mouth, jaw, and tooth injuries during the soccer season, and hope to raise awareness among our young athletes about the importance of wearing a mouth guard. Much like cleats, or shin guards, a mouth guard should be high on your equipment checklist as well." Bradley adds, "Through Shins for Grins, we hope to not only support local soccer players who need shin guards to stay safe, but we also hope to raise awareness about the importance of using a mouth guard - a grin guard - to protect all these great young smiles as well!"

As hundreds of student athletes gear up for fall soccer and have their shin guards and their spikes ready to go, most parents and athletes forget an important piece of equipment: the mouth guard. 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 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 Bradley. "It should be a part of the equipment check list when getting ready for the athletic season."

As part of its effort to build awareness about the importance of wearing a mouth guard, each of the ten greater Madison-area First Choice Dental Group locations will sponsor a shin guard collection to benefit Millennium Soccer Club, and give donors a chance to win a new GameFace mouth guard. First Choice Dental will also accept donations of other gently used soccer equipment for donation to Millennium Soccer Club.

Shin Guards and Mouth Guards Help Soccer Players Stay Safe

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 mouth guard can prevent tooth injury, concussions and other head traumas. Bradley notes, "Our dentists have tested many mouth guards, and have given our approval to this particular model, but we recommend wearing any type of mouth guard - one bought at a sporting goods store or any discount store - rather than wearing none at all."

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 Bradley. "It's safer, and a lot less expensive, to have a dentist design a professionally fitted mouth guard, or to purchase one over the counter, than it is to suffer the long-term consequences of lost or injured teeth."

Sports-related mouth injuries can mean 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 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 Bradley.

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 and now through Shins for Grins. Look for more information on Shins for Grins and drop-off locations near you, as well as information about the GameFace Mouth Guard Program.