Sport a smile, wear a mouth guard

Each year thousands of children and teens get hurt on the playing field, the basketball court or while skateboarding, biking or during other activities. Blows to the face in nearly every sport can injure the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue.

A properly fitted mouth guard is an important piece of athletic gear that can protect your teeth and smile.

Generally a mouth guard covers only the upper teeth. The most effective mouth guard should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable and easy to clean, and not restrict your speech or breathing.

If you have a mouth guard, take good care of it:
• Before and after each use, rinse it with cold water or with an antiseptic mouth rinse. You can clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush, too.

• When it’s not being used, place your mouth guard in a firm, perforated container that permits air circulation and helps prevent damage.

• Avoid high temperatures, such as hot water, hot surfaces or direct sunlight, which can distort the mouth guard.

• Check it for tears, holes and to see whether it has become loose in the mouth. A mouth guard that’s torn or in bad shape can irritate your mouth and lessen the amount of protection it provides.

• Have regular dental checkups and bring your mouth guard along so the dentist can make sure it’s still in good condition.

You can get your own “boil and bite” mouth guard from the Ramstein fitness centers, youth centers and the Ramstein Dental Clinic or feel free to join the custom mouth guard clinic from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday in Bldg 301. Don’t take your teeth for granted. Be cool. Wear a mouth guard. Protect your smile.

(Courtesy of the 86th Dental Squadron)