Play It Safe

April is National Facial Protection Month, and is sponsored annually by the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Academy for Sports Dentistry and the American Dental Association to remind parents, coaches, and athletes to gear up for recreational and organized sports. Mouth guards are a good idea all year long.

An AAO orthodontist can recommend a mouth guard for a patient/athlete who wears braces or other devices that move teeth or align jaws.

Play it safe – wear a mouth guard at every practice and every game.

Mouth guards and other types of protective gear can prevent or reduce injuries that happen during organized and recreational sports. Mouth guards offer protection by absorbing high-impact energy from potentially traumatic blows (Journal of the American Dental Association, December 2006, p. 1715)

Mouth Guard Care

  • Keep your mouth guard clean - rinse before and after each use
  • Store in a perforated container to let your mouth guard dry out
  • Avoid chewing on the mouth guard
  • Don't wear removable retainers with your mouth guard
  • Replace your mouth guard when it shows signs of wear

Wish you could wrap your kids in bubble wrap to protect them?

Good news - mouth guards are better than bubble wrap for facial protection and are much more practical! Check out this video.

What's the best type of mouth guard? The one that's worn.

Types of mouth guards


Custom made from a full-mouth impression taken in the dentist's/dental specialist's office and sent to a dental lab for fabrication


Provide the most protection and comfort

Covers all teeth and cushion the jaw.

No interference with speech or breathing.

Adjustable for all sports


More expensive than commercially-made mouth guards

Mouth-formed or "Boil-and-Bite"

Boiled in water for a period of time and then formed to the teeth by applying pressure


Cost Effective

Available from department and sporting goods stores

Provides better individual fit than stock mouth guards


Tend to wear quickly and may need to be replaced during the sports season.

Difficult to speak and breathe

Stock or Commercial Mouth Guards

Rubber or polyvinyl and sold in small, medium or large sizes


Sold in major department and sports goods stores.



Cannot be modified to fit the individual's mouth.

Least effective in terms of protection.

Impairs breathing and stays in place only when mouth is closed

For athletes currently in orthdontic treatment, contact your orthodontist about the type of mouth guard to wear during treatment.

If a mouth guard is not worn and an injury occurs, follow these first aid tips

Hard-hitting facts about kids and sports-related injuries

  • About 80 percent of traumatic dental injuries occur to the two front teeth (Journal of the American Dental Association, December 2006, p. 1713)
  • Injuries can happen at any age or skill level
    • Baseball, soccer, basketball and football account for about 80 percent of all sports-related emergency room visits for children between the ages of 5 and 14 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
    • A single traumatic injury to the teeth may never heal completely, and it can create a lifetime of expensive, long-term problems for the affected individual (Journal of the American Dental Association, December 2006, p. 1713)
  • Mouth guard use is very low
    • 67 percent of parents surveyed by the American Association of Orthodontists said their child does not wear a mouth guard, yet 70 percent said their biggest fear is their child will get hurt when playing organized sports
    • 27 percent of parents surveyed said their child has sustained an injury during an organized sport that resulted in a trip to the emergency room
  • Coaches can make a difference, but many fail to promote mouth guard use during practice and competition
    • 96 percent of parents surveyed reported that their children’s coaches are important/influential in the use/promotion of protective sports gear
    • 50 percent of parents reported their children’s coaches have not recommended the use of mouth guards during competition
  • Hard hits occur no matter the sport
  • Parents of children in orthodontic treatment should talk with their orthodontist about the recommended mouth guard to wear during orthodontic treatment