Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School of Dentistry to offer mouth guard clinic

Amateur athletes ages 5 and older planning to participate in football, ice hockey, basketball, soccer or other sports are invited to participate in the School of Dentistry’s mouth guard program. Children who wear braces are also invited.

From 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 11, dental and dental hygiene students supervised by faculty volunteers will make the free, customized mouth guards on a first-come, first-served basis at the School of Dentistry, 1011 N. University Avenue.

It is not necessary to make an appointment. However, because of the time needed to make the popular piece of protective equipment and ensure a proper fit, only 120 mouth guards will be made.

Amateur athletes younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The student athlete will spend about 15 or 20 minutes in a dental chair as a dental student or dental hygiene student takes an impression, the first step in making the mouth guard. It will take about two hours to make the customized item.

After picking up the mouth guard, student athletes will have an opportunity to try it on in the presence of a student dentist to ensure a proper fit. If any adjustments are needed, those will be completed before the student athlete returns home.

A mouth guard is one of the most important, yet probably most overlooked or neglected pieces of sports equipment. They are vital for athletes planning to participate in contact sports and other activities such as skateboarding, rollerblading, or downhill skiing.

Dr. William Godwin, considered by many to be the father of the customized mouth guard and a U-M professor emeritus of dentistry and sport dentistry specialist, said, “Mouth guards don’t just save teeth. They also help minimize head and neck injuries, such as concussions and jaw fractures since they act like shock absorbers, blunting the force of impact from falls or contact that occur in athletics.”

Godwin says the customized mouth guards made by U-M dental students “are more comfortable than the off-the-shelf guards that are sold in stores. We know that the more comfortable the mouth guard is, the more likely it is that the kids will wear them.”