Worry-free sports and play for kids -- and parents

  • Dr. Lynse Briney during a mouthguard consultation with a young patient.

    Dr. Lynse Briney during a mouthguard consultation with a young patient.

Lynse Briney
Updated 9/26/2019 8:24 AM

School has started and so has your kids' fall sports season. You've scrambled to get equipment together -- helmets, shin guards, and shoulder pads. But you wouldn't have them play baseball, soccer or football without their protective gear, right? For dentists, it's also obvious you'd want to protect them from a fastball straight to the teeth on the baseball field, or a fierce elbow to the jaw on the basketball court. And they all agree, the best way to protect them is with a well-fitted mouthguard.

Three million teeth get knocked out each year in youth sports, and athletes are 60 times more likely to experience tooth injuries without a mouthguard. Yet, 67% of child athletes don't wear one. As families gear up for back-to-school sports, it's important to remember that the smallest piece of sports equipment may be the most essential to safeguarding that smile.


The right mouthguard can protect teeth, the tongue, jaw, and the entire mouth from injury during sports and play. They have even been shown to help prevent concussions resulting from head trauma. So it's no surprise professional athletes in virtually every sport have increasingly adopted mouthguards as part of their practice and game routine.

Repairing broken teeth or jaws, or replacing missing teeth with dental implants, not only can take months to heal, but also can run you in the thousands of dollars.

Compared to the pain, time and expense of treating sports injuries, a properly fitted athletic mouthguard is a low-cost investment in your child's overall health. And it can last from a few months to a year, depending on the child's age and how fast their teeth grow.

And the best part for my young athlete patients? They find a custom-fit mouthguard more comfortable because it stays put, they can still easily talk and drink water while wearing it, and they can typically pick a fun design, or their team colors for their mouthguard.

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Whether your child has braces, has teeth still growing in, or has their full set of adult teeth, Chicago Dental Society (CDS) dentists can help identify the best protection option for active kids -- and adults.

We're committed to increasing awareness about mouthguard use, and want to encourage active kids, right from the start, to develop the habit of wearing an athletic mouthguard for play, practice and competition. To make athletic mouthguards more accessible for families with young athletes, CDS dentists across Chicago are happy to meet with families and their athlete to discuss options and make recommendations on the best mouthguard to use.

You already encourage your kids to maintain a good oral health routine -- brushing, flossing and minimizing sugary foods and beverages. Talk to a CDS dentist about the best ways to protect oral health during sports and play, including the right mouthguard, for the athletes in your family.

More information and important statistics on sports injuries can be found at cds.org/mouthguard, along with a list of CDS dentists in your area.

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