Now that it is spring, even more children and teenagers will hit the field for youth sports. Unfortunately, that also means dangers to their mouths and faces.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year. 

“Tooth fractures, chipping or loosening of teeth and laceration of gums and/or lips are all common youth sports injuries that could be prevented by wearing a mouth guard,” explains Dr. Frank Iuorno with West End Orthodontics.

According to the American Dental Association, mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year.

Iuorno says teeth are knocked out at youth sporting events every season. 

“Ironically we see very few injuries from contact sports such as football, lacrosse and field hockey because they require mouth protection,” he says. “We consistently see injuries from soccer, baseball, softball and basketball because these sports do not require mouth protection, but should.”

Iuorno adds, “If a child sustains a facial injury, he or she should be evaluated by a doctor for several reasons. Concussion is always a risk when trauma to the face is sustained. And if there are injuries to the teeth, lips or gums a dentist should be consulted. If a tooth is knocked out completely, do not wash it off. Place it in milk or in your mouth until you can see an oral surgeon to evaluate the possibility of replacement.”

Iuorno and other members of the Virginia Dental Association are raising awareness about injuries associated with youth sports throughout April, which is National Facial Protection Month.