Prevention is always the best policy when there is a potential danger of injury. For that very good reason, your Bala Cynwyd oral surgeon along with his colleagues advocates the use of protective gear for athletic pursuits at all levels. As we have seen all too frequently, you can sustain serious head trauma at any level of play.
Fortunately, innovations in helmet, mouth, and face guard technology make these devices more comfortable to wear and more effective in protecting the vulnerable maxillofacial area of your head.
Football: Helmets with face guards and mouth guards are essential. Be on the lookout for helmets manufactured for younger players, which may have plastic face guards. Plastic face guards can bend back into the face and cause injury. Carbon steel wire guards are more effective and safer.
Baseball: Catchers should always wear masks. For batters, there are now helmets with clear molded plastic face guards, which can also be worn while fielding.
Ice Hockey: increasingly, hockey players are wearing cage-like face guards attached to their helmets, which are better able to absorb the different pressures that result from player-to-player contact, ice contact, and contact with the boards.
Wrestling: Today, more wrestlers are required to wear head gear. A strap with a chin cup holds it in place and helps steady the jaw. Wrestlers should also wear mouth guards.
Lacrosse: Use lacrosse-specific, hard plastic helmets (resembling baseball batting helmets), with wire cage face masks.
Field Hockey and Soccer: All players should wear mouth guards, while goalies should consider additional head protection (helmets).
Bikes, Scooters, and Skateboards: All riders should wear bike helmets.
Skiing and Snowboarding: Skiers and snowboarders should also wear lightweight helmets.
Basketball, Water Polo, Handball, Rugby, Karate, Judo, and Gymnastics: Mouth guards are the best protection in these sports.
Additional notes about Mouth Guards: Any mouth guard should be evaluated based on several criteria; retention, comfort, ability to breathe, tear resistance, and the protection that it provides to the teeth, gums and lips. In addition, you will want to consider the weight and how easy it is to clean.
By encouraging players in all sports, and at every level to wear mouth guards and other protective equipment, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are working to make sports safer and hopefully more fun for everyone.