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close-up of a young football player with helmet and mouthguard

Prevent Broken Noses, Chipped Teeth, and Jaw Fractures

By  Dr. David Bitonti, Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery

Every year, children need emergency care for facial injuries that could have been prevented if they had been wearing a mouth guard or protective headgear. To raise awareness about this issue, healthcare providers nationwide are recognizing National Facial Protection Month in April to remind parents to play it safe in organized and recreational sports by making sure their children have the proper equipment to protect their faces year-round.

Up to 18 percent of sports injuries are related to the face, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). Fractures can occur to the jaw, cheekbones, nose, eye socket, and frontal sinus area. These injuries can affect a child’s ability to breathe, speak, and swallow.

Children between the ages of 7 and 11 are most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries, according to the AAOMS. Fortunately, wearing a mouth guard can significantly reduce a child’s risk of having a tooth knocked out or injuring their jaw.

While some parents choose to have a custom mouth guard made for their child, other options include stock mouth guards, which are pre-formed, and boil-and-bite mouth guards, which can be shaped to a child’s mouth.

Mouth guards are most effective when they cover the upper and lower teeth and gums and provide a good fit. When a child wears their mouth guard, it should not misalign their jaw or change their bite. Look for a mouth guard that’s lightweight, strong, and easy to clean.

Some parents may think their child doesn’t need to wear a mouth guard because it isn’t required to participate. However, mouth guards should be worn while playing any type of contact sport. This includes any type of activity where a player is likely to have their face come into contact with the pavement, a hard surface, or another player. Kids who participate in soccer, BMX biking, skateboarding, and in-line skating should wear a mouth guard as well as other protective helmets and equipment.

Wearing a mouth guard might feel strange at first, but children get used to wearing them with time. Parents can help their child become accustomed by making sure the mouth guard fits properly.

If your child suffers a facial injury, make sure to seek appropriate emergency care.


David Bitonti, DMD, FACD, FICD - Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon - CHKDDr. David Bitonti, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is a member of CHKD’s Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery team. A retired U.S. Navy Captain with 30 years of service, Dr. Bitonti’s clinical interests include caring for trauma patients and helping children with obstructive sleep apnea.

Learn more about CHKD’s Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Program.


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About Children's Surgical Specialty Group

About Children's Surgical Specialty Group  Our surgeons provide outstanding surgical services for children who come to our main hospital as well as those who come to our surgery centers. CHKD is a world leader in thoracic surgery and home to the Nuss Procedure to correct pectus excavatum. At CHKD, we treat the big things, the little things, and everything in between. Our surgical specialists treat children for a wide variety of conditions, from congenital to infectious to traumatic. All members of CHKD Surgical Group have met stringent requirements and received certifications in their specific area of pediatric surgery.