The stage for the big game is set. The Carolina Panthers face off against the Denver Broncos in an epic battle Sunday February 7 and every football-loving woman, man and child will be in on the action.

During the game, big plays, advertisements and the half time show all jockey for attention. However one thing that hides out of the spotlight is the safety gear tucked under each expertly designed jersey and helmet. One of the least memorable pieces of gear is the mouth guard, but for many reasons it is a key element to any athlete’s safety equipment.

Each member on the team is required to wear a mouth guard, and for good reason. A study of high school athletes found that seventy-five percent of injuries occur when a mouth guard is not worn. This is largely due to the fact that mouth guards protect more than just the teeth. The tongue, cheek lining and lips are cushioned from blows and help prevent drastic injuries, even those to the brain caused by severe impact.

It’s clear why mouth guards are important for oral care, but where to get one? Athletic stores will usually provide a range of options varying in costs, comfort levels and amount of protection. For more customized care, our pediatric dental care practice will create perfect guards for growing, active mouths.

Once your child has a mouth guard, be sure to keep it clean as well. Rinse the guard out with toothpaste and a brush after every use and occasionally use a deep cleaning soap for thorough cleanliness. When taking the guard to games, be sure to store the guard in a vented container to help keep it dry and prevent bacterial growth.

Even with the necessary precautions, accidents still happen. Check out this list of what to do in case a tooth gets chipped or even knocked out while playing contact sports.