The month of April is a time of spring blossoms, of new life after the harsh cold has passed, sports activities taking us outside, and biannual dental checkups.  That’s right, your kids (and you!) should be having dental checkups two times per year. April is a great month to do it, because your sports calendars and vacation trips haven’t filled up the calendar yet, and our four locations are offering $25 gift cards for our patients when they have a dental appointment through the end of April.

April is National Facial Protection Month

We’ve shared our stance on the importance of mouth guards and facial protection for your kids and teens when they’re engaging in sports activities, and now is a perfect time to re-iterate its value.

Mouth injuries and head injuries are rather common in the spring months due to the uptick in outdoor sports activities and we’d prefer (as would you as parents!) not to have to reset a knocked-out tooth or fix a broken or chipped tooth for your kid if it can be avoided.

Facts About Mouth Guards

  • Over 20 million kids in the U.S. participate in sports every year.
  • Approximately 36% of unintentional injuries to kids occur due to sports activities.
  • Up to 20% of those injuries are maxillofacial.
  • If your child plays soccer they are more likely to incur a dental injury than if they play football.
  • Basketball is the leading sport in dental injuries.
  • Athletes who wear mouthguards are 82%-93% less likely to have a dental injury.

It should be noted we aren’t indicating that soccer and basketball are dangerous sports to be avoided, the point is that unlike in football, emphasis on facial protection (mouth guards) isn’t made in these sports, in spite of the fact that dental injuries do occur. Football players wear pads and helmets, and also mouth guards are required. Basketball and soccer players wear uniforms and special shoes, and shin guards for soccer, so why not spend the money to also protect their teeth as well?

Mouth Guard Options for Your Athletes in the Family

If we’ve convinced you that mouthguards are a good idea for your family athletes this spring, hooray! You have basically, three options moving forward. If your budget is your primary concern, you can look for stock mouth guards or “boil & bite” mouth guards in just about any sporting goods store. Stock mouth guards are going to come in standard sizes, but a boil and bite is generally a step up in price that will allow a more modified fit. The best protection is a custom mouthguard, and although it will cost more, it will undoubtedly be the most comfortable and provide the best protection. Ask us about a custom mouthguard when your kids come in for their next checkup and we’ll help you work through your options to find a good fit (pun intended) for your budget and your family.

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Aside from the necessary benefits of routine dental checkups that serve as an important preventive measure to look for plaque, decay, and seek to maintain you and your child’s teeth in a state of cleanliness, routine dental checkups can serve as screenings for oral cancer detection as well.

Facts About Oral Cancer

  • Over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and 450,000 globally.
  • One death per hour can be attributed to oral cancer in the United States.
  • The death rate can be attributed due to the fact it is often diagnosed late in its progression.
  • A person who survives the first diagnosis of oral cancer is 20 times more likely to develop second cancer.
  • Approximately 90% of diagnosed oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Previously, oral cancer was statistically more likely in men over 50 who drank and smoked tobacco. Unfortunately, it is occurring in the younger non-smoking generations as well due to the HPV16 virus.

Check Your Own Mouth and Your Kids’

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) has created a public campaign for awareness encouraging civilians to “check their mouth” for signs and symptoms which include the following (cited directly from the OCF website):

“Signs and symptoms of oral cancer caused by tobacco usage and/or excessive alcohol usage may include one or more of the following:

  • Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
  • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched.
  • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually the border of the tongue.
  • Tissue raised above that which surrounds it; a growth.
  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, does not heal.
  • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.
  • All these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.”

“Signs and symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer persist longer than two-three weeks and may include one or more of the following:

  • Hoarseness or sore throat that does not resolve.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
  • Constant coughing that does not resolve.
  • Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
  • An earache on one side (unilateral) that persists for more than a few days.
  • All of these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.”

Organize Dental Checkups for Your Athletes This April

Through the end of this month, we’re offering $25 gift cards for each patient who comes in for a dental checkup at any of our four locations. Don’t let the month pass you by, we can answer questions or concerns about oral cancer and facial protection, and be sure your kids’ teeth are happy and healthy this spring.