April is National Facial Protection Month

ROSEMONT, Ill., April 1, 2011 /CHICAGOPRESSRELEASE.COM/ — The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) reminds children and adults: As you suit up for outdoor fun this spring, don’t forget to protect your face and head. Spring often brings a flood of patients suffering with head, mouth and facial injuries resulting from sports-related accidents to doctors’ offices and even emergency rooms.

Helmets work

Whether you are riding a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle, or playing baseball, soccer or lacrosse, wear a properly fitted helmet. A well-fitted helmet should sit on top your head in a level position, covering the forehead. It should not rock back and forth or side to side. Pay attention to the chinstrap. It should fit around your ear and under your chin comfortably. How well do helmets work? According to Safe Kids USA, universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4-15 could prevent between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries and between 18,000 and 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.

Nearly 50 percent of children age 14 and under who are hospitalized for bicycle-related injuries are diagnosed with brain injuries. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent and brain injury by 88 percent! And yet, national estimates report bicycle helmet use among children ranges from only 15 percent to 25 percent.

Remember, a multi-sport helmet can be used for a variety of activities. Contact the Snell Memorial Foundation, 916/331-5073 and the American National Standards Institute, 212/642-4900 for additional information about helmet safety standards.

The best defense is a good offense – have mouth guards on your team

A 2009 survey of parents conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists found that mouth guard use is low – only 33%, even though one of four parents surveyed said their child had sustained an injury during an organized sport that resulted in a trip to the emergency room.*  

Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics echo these findings. The commission’s 2006 estimated emergency room-treated injuries for youths under age 15 reveal that the largest percentage of injuries is associated with the head, face, mouth or ears.  Leading the pack in sheer numbers are bicycle injuries with 34 percent of the nearly 240,000 injuries associated with the head and face.  Just under half of baseball’s 85,000 injuries were associated with these anatomical areas.**

Just by wearing a properly fitted mouth guard, many of these accidents and traumatic facial injuries could be prevented. In fact, the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety says that athletes are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when not wearing a protective mouth guard. The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. Despite these favorable odds, nearly one-third of parents do not take the same safety precautions during practice as they do for a game.  It is no real surprise then that 62 percent of sports-related injuries occur during practice sessions.

An effective mouth guard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. It should cover the teeth, and depending on your bite, also the gums. The most comfortable and effective mouth guard is one that is custom made. While other, cheaper alternatives are available, with their lower cost comes minimal, if any, real protection.

Don’t miss a minute of the fun – protect yourself!

Be smart. Protect yourself and your loved ones from easily preventable oral and facial injuries by always wearing sports safety equipment like helmets and mouth guards. Your dental professionals care about your well being and urge you to take the appropriate precautions when you head out this spring.  

Spread the word

Visit aaoms.org for more information on spreading the Facial Protection Month message.  You’ll find statistics, flyers to download and share, and tips for avoiding injuries.  And, contact AAOMS at inquiries@aaoms.org and request your complimentary copy of our pamphlet on Treating and Preventing Facial Injury – complete with a removable, perfect for carrying in your wallet, first aid card!

National Facial Protection Month is sponsored annually by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (www.aaoms.org), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (www.aapd.org), and the American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org). They encourage children and adults to enjoy the pleasures of the season by using common sense and taking the necessary precautions to prevent sports injuries.  

* The AAO commissioned Impulse Research Corp. to conduct the AAO 2009 Protective Sports Gear Survey. The survey was conducted in February 2009 online with a random sample of 1,022 men and women, ages 18 years old or older, from the U.S. Survey participants were carefully selected to closely match U.S. population demographics and the respondents are representative of American men and women 18 years old or older who have children between the ages of eight and 17, who participate in organized sports.  The overall sampling error rate for this survey is +/- 3 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

**Consumer Product Safety Commission, Release #08-252, April 23, 2008            

Saving Faces, Changing Lives® — The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the professional organization representing more than 9,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States, supports its fellows’ and members’ ability to practice their specialty through education, research and advocacy. AAOMS fellows and members comply with rigorous continuing education requirements and submit to periodic office examinations, ensuring the public that all office procedures and personnel meet stringent national standards.  

SOURCE American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons


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