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Play it safe: Protect your child's face during spring sports

HomeNews and Events > Play it safe: Protect your child's face during spring sports
Jeff Holloway, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center

Four tips to prevent facial injuries with simple safety precautions

Every year parents bring their children to emergency rooms for everything from broken or knocked out teeth to broken jaws or other facial injuries suffered while playing sports.

Jeff Holloway, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center, “Many people think they’re immune to the types of serious injuries that people warn them about if they don’t wear a helmet or mouthguard. They think it’s not going to happen to me. Unfortunately, there’s no predicting when an injury is going to occur and who it will affect. Often the results of an injury are even more devastating when you realize that the injury could’ve easily been prevented."

According to the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy of Sports Dentistry and American Association of Orthodontists, children ages 7-11 are most vulnerable to sports-related mouth injuries, and athletes are 60 percent more likely to suffer harm to teeth if not wearing a mouthguard.

These injuries are most often caused by direct hits with a hard object, such as a puck or ball, and player-to-player contact. Whether or not your children are engaged in organized sports, they can still sustain serious facial injuries just by playing outside – especially if they’re not wearing proper protection during spirited activities.

“Traumatic injuries occur in an instant,” said Holloway. “They can be devastating and take weeks to months to heal.”

Here are four safety tips to remember during recreational and organized sports to help prevent serious, painful facial injuries that can take the fun out of the game.

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. Mouthguards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury. Dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouthguards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.
  • Use protective eyewear. Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports.
  • Wear a face shield to avoid bruised skin. Hockey pucks, footballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.

For more information about Palmetto Health USC-Medical Group, including Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedics, visit

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