I'm sure everyone in Chicago has seen or heard about Duncan Keith, the defenseman for the Blackhawks, losing seven teeth during a game last week. Hockey players being hockey players, he missed a few minutes of ice time while they numbed his mouth, and got right back in the game. If it had been a major league baseball player, he'd probably still be in intensive care and out for the season.
What most of you don't realize is how often this type of injury occurs. While losing seven teeth is extreme, players of all ages, in all sports get hit in the mouth and injure their teeth on a daily basis. An accidental elbow in a pick-up basketball game, a bad hop ground ball in a Little League game or a stray lacrosse stick in practice can all result in chipped, broken or missing teeth. These mishaps may require dental treatment ranging from fifteen minutes to smooth a sharp edge: to extractions, bone grafts and implants costing thousands of dollars.
Almost all of these injuries can be prevented or minimized by wearing a mouth guard. Mouth guards are made of flexible plastic and designed to fit over the upper teeth. By cushioning the blow and spreading it over a wide area, they protect the teeth and gums. I recommend them for almost all athletes in just about any sport. For younger children whose mouths are constantly changing, a ten-dollar boil and bite device from Dick's will offer protection. For teenagers and adults, a custom fitted guard will provide a better fit; and more protection and comfort.
The reasons people give for not wearing a mouth guard are many; they are uncomfortable, they make it hard to breathe or talk, they aren't worth the money. None of these are valid reasons, merely excuses. They are easy to get used to and are the cheapest insurance you can buy. In my thirty years as a dentist in Oak Park, I have treated many sports related injuries; virtually all of them could have been avoided if the player had been wearing a mouth guard.
Hope this opened your eyes, if you don't want to protect your own teeth; at least protect your kids. Thanks for reading. Go Blackhawks!!