SPRING’S ARRIVAL means baseball diamonds will soon fill with boys and girls of all ages competing in America's favorite summer sport. Accidents do happen, so here are tips to help preserve everyone’s teeth until the final out of the World Series.
First to report are catchers and umpires, especially in softball. Big, bulky cast-iron facemasks are uncomfortable, heavy, and hot. Most organized leagues require them. Occasional pick-up slow pitch softball games at lawn parties or family reunions may find an innocent volunteer behind home plate.
Foul tips glance off the bat in all directions. Unmasked victims may quickly get a free horsehide sandwich, and possibly some stitches – similar to those on the ball. When no facemask is available, let someone else volunteer.
People who play baseball, softball, kickball, soccer or almost any sport regularly should consider an inexpensive, “store-bought” dental mouth guard to help prevent chipped, cracked or broken teeth. Mouth guards can also lessen risk of concussion. Without a mouth guard, a blow to the chin transmits force from lower teeth to upper teeth to the brain. Mouth guards work like shock absorbers, softening the strength of force.
The most common complaint about wearing mouth guards is trouble speaking.
So? Players should always concentrate on competing and winning the game; it's not a poetry recital.
To practice speaking better, read a newspaper out loud while wearing a mouth guard, or count from one to hundred. Repeat troublesome words over and over until they come out clearly. Practice alone until confident.
Whenever players are wearing dental orthodontic braces, the risk of injury to lips & cheeks is much greater when not wearing a mouth guard. After braces come off, protect this investment by continuing to wear mouth guards. If clear speaking is essential, such as a football quarterback calling signals, see a dentist for a custom made appliance.
Another way to prevent baseball injuries is absolutely free -- just pay close attention to the game at hand. Foul balls that veer into the spectator gallery never seem to hit those fans ducking for cover and dancing all around. “Headhunter” balls usually find a person who's reading a magazine or distracted or talking to someone. Watch the game. “Keep you eye on the ball” is good advice for everyone, not just the batter.