This month, parents across the country will be flooding their backyards and creating ice rinks for themselves and their kids to play hockey. Most backyard players don’t wear helmets, especially for neighbourhood games of shimmy – and while we don’t necessarily agree with going helmetless, if you’re going to do that, please (please, please) invest in a mouth guard. No, the puck’s not moving that fast, and it rarely leaves the ice, but one unexpected slap shot (or more commonly, one slip and fall in the wrong direction) could leave you or your kids with the hockiest of hockey smiles, and no one wants that.
Being in an area full of young families, unfortunately we see a lot of kids come in with hockey-related injuries to their mouths. And most of them can be prevented with a simple plastic mouth guard. You can purchase one at most sporting goods stores, or we can make you a custom mouth guard to suit the unique shapes of your mouth, jaw and teeth. Whichever you choose, the important thing is that you wear it every time you play hockey or skate. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with time you won’t feel comfortable on the ice without it.
In the arena
If you’re playing organized hockey, a mouth guard should be part of your gear, no questions asked. Some people have argued that you don’t need one if you’re wearing a full cage (which most if not all minor hockey players are required to wear). But consider this scenario: you’re on the bench between shifts with your cage raised talking strategy with your line mates. Out on the ice, a shot rides up another player’s stick, gets airborne and heads directly towards your head. You don’t notice it because you’re in the middle of planning your next offensive attack, and before you know it, you’re spitting out teeth.
If you’re a coach or a parent volunteer, you should also consider a mouth guard for the same reason. You never know where an errand shot or pass is going to head. If it heads towards your head and you haven’t protected your mouth, let’s just say you won’t be doing much coaching for the next little while.
In the stands
One minute, you’re enjoying your 6 am coffee and conversation with another parent. The next, you’re face down in the bleachers, thinking to yourself, how did I not see that coming? If you’re not paying attention and the puck jumps the glass and gets you, you’re looking at a not-so-nice rest of the day.
In other sports
Hockey may be the most obvious choice of sport that requires a mouth guard, given its highly physical nature, but it’s not the only sport. Flying elbows on the basketball court, lowered shoulders on the football field and 80 mph fastballs on the baseball diamond can all create a serious hole in our smile. But with a mouth guard to protect your smile, you and whoever is on your team can put oral accidents on the back burner and focus on what’s really important: winning it all.
If you have questions about mouth guards and which ones are right for you, ask us at your next appointment! We’ll be happy to sort you or your kids out and get you ready for the season, the playoffs and beyond.