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Sports Safety with Braces
What Every Parent, Coach and Athlete Should Know About Sports Safety

A child’s mouth and face can easily be injured if the correct precautions and equipment aren’t used during organized sports. In fact, sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in 12- to 17-year-olds according to the Center for Disease Control.

To help educate parents, coaches, and kids, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has teamed up with Jennifer Montana, wife of football great Joe Montana and the mother of two sons who play football, to urge athletes to “play it safe” by wearing mouth guards and other appropriate protective gear when participating in many sports and activities.

Safety Tips
     • Wear mouth guards for contact sports. Mouth guards can help prevent  jaw, mouth and teeth injuries and are less costly than       repairing an injury.
     • Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact.
     • Wear protective eyewear. Eyes are extremely vulnerable.
     • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin. Hockey pucks, basketballs, and racquetballs can do severe damage. 
       (more Sports Safey Tips)

- From the American Association of Orthodontics, NFPM Spokeswoman Jennifer Montana

Creating a Smile That's Good for Life

Orthodontics Can Improve Oral Health, Boost Self-Image

Braces don't just change looks - they can improve outlooks. The art and science of orthodontics has greatly enhanced the quality of life for many people of all ages. Patients say they no longer feel the urge to cover their mouths self-consciously whenever they laugh or smile.

Orthodontic patients come from all walks of life, and their personal stories are uniquely compelling. Some are strikingly attractive. But others are grateful they don't get a second glance on the street today - because before orthodontic treatment, people may have stared at them.

Among these countless people is Amie Beth Dickinson of Birmingham, Ala., whose upper and lower front teeth protruded before treatment. Until she got braces in her teens, she may not have turned as many heads as she is likely to today. She was chosen Miss Alabama 1994. Most patients, of course, are not beauty-pageant winners, but everyday people: Youngsters whose playmates don't call them ugly names or make fun of them anymore. Parents who have decided to get braces themselves after they've witnessed the change in their children's smiles and attitudes. Or women and men who believe that opting for orthodontics means they won't have to think about dentures.

"Changing people's lives is no small thing - and we do it every day," notes Dr. Terry McDonald, a Portland, Ore., orthodontist. "But the change isn't always immediate, and isn't always recognized."

Joe M. of Chicago is a case in point. He'd originally sought orthodontic treatment because his teeth didn't meet. Chewing was so uncomfortable that he felt fatigued after meals. After his braces came off, at first he didn't think he looked all that different. But Miller found that not only was he able to relax and enjoy a meal - he could see his teeth in snapshots. That is, he was all smiles, not looking down or away from the camera like he always had before.

If some people gradually blossom and thus are unaware of how much they have changed over time, their before- and after-treatment photos often tell a dramatic story. Posture may have improved; the person may no longer slouch, but sits up straight. The smiles are less self-conscious - and more self-confident.

And because the orthodontist's specialized training and expertise has helped to close up spaces between teeth or eliminate crowding, patients have found it's easier to keep them clean. Michael Smith of Lancaster, Pa., says he has fewer problems with tartar buildup since braces realigned his teeth and jaws. "I do believe my teeth will last a lot longer," says Smith, who got braces in his late 20s.
But as has been the case with so many people, other benefits of braces have come as a very pleasant surprise. "Having braces really improved my attitude," Smith says. "I was reluctant to smile before I had them. I really didn't want to talk because I was afraid of the way people would perceive my teeth."

In his enthusiasm about the process, and its gratifying results, Smith could be speaking for thousands of people whose lives have changed because of orthodontics: "Now I feel much better about myself. I have much more self-confidence."
For more information about orthodontics or for the names of AAO member orthodontists in your area, visit www.braces.org or call 1-800-STRAIGHT (1-800-787-2444). Your dentist also can provide recommendations on orthodontists near you. .

Who is an orthodontist? 

An orthodontist specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists receive an additional two-to-three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the AAO.

About the American Association of Orthodontists:

The AAO comprises 15,000 members in the United States, Canada and abroad. Founded in 1900, the AAO supports research and education leading to quality patient care and promotes increased public awareness of the need for and benefits of orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are uniquely qualified to correct improperly aligned teeth and jaws. They are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The American Dental Association requires orthodontists to have at least two academic years of advanced specialty training in orthodontics in an accredited program, after graduation from dental school.

- From the American Association of Orthodontics

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