University of Washington (UW) School of Dentistry students will highlight the importance of mouthguards Friday evening, Feb. 6, as part of their participation in national Give Kids a Smile Day, an American Dental Association (ADA) initiative. The goal is to spotlight the national crisis in oral health care and children’s limited access to dental care. At the UW event, about 125 middle and high school students will have impressions made of their mouths, from which dental laboratories will make mouthguards at no cost to the student athletes. The Seattle event is one of many Smile Day activities across the nation, as dental schools and dentists provide free oral health care to children in their neighborhoods.
The program will begin at 6 p.m. with the introduction of guest athletes in Hogness Auditorium. Seattle Seahawks fullback Chris Davis will join Husky offensive tackle Khalif Barnes and Husky fullback Zach Tuiasosopo in getting mouth impressions made during the opening program, to demonstrate how easy the procedure is. The guest athletes and Dr. Joel Berg, chair of the UW Department of Pediatric Dentistry, will talk to the students and their parents about the importance of using mouthguards in both contact and non-contact sports.
After the opening program, students will go to a nearby dental clinic to get impressions made for their free mouthguards. UW dental students will make the impressions under the supervision of School of Dentistry faculty.
Berg says, “A mouthguard is an important piece of athletic equipment. Properly fitted, it can help prevent injuries to the lips, tongue, face and jaw and can prevent broken teeth. It’s also important to wear a mouthguard to prevent dental injuries during non-contact sports, such as gymnastics.”
The ADA estimates that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries in high school and college football alone.
Organizations donating products and services for the mouthguard clinic are: Edgewood Dental Lab, Nakanishi Dental Laboratory, Zundel Dental Laboratory, Dental Resources Inc./ProForm Mouthguards, Issaquah Dental Lab, Lake City Dental Laboratory and Procter & Gamble. The event is funded by donations from the Seattle-King County Dental Foundation and the Dental Student Alliance of Washington, whose members are also volunteering to help organize the event.