Concussions, lacerations, ACL tears and broken bones . . .It may be pretty safe to say that these injuries are top of mind for most athletes and parents when playing sports. And, it may be pretty safe to say that while helmets are worn and pads are securely in place, mouth guards can be overlooked.According to Momsteam.com, over 5 million teeth are displaced from their socket annually. This, combined with the physical and financial expenses associated with these injuries, brings to the light the importance of wearing a mouth guard.Athletes participating in contact sports, and even those playing non-contact sports, are at risk not only for cracked, broken or knocked-out teeth, but a myriad of other maxillofacial injuries such as lacerations of the lips and cheeks, or a fractured jaw. The American Dental Association states that simply wearing a properly fitted mouth guard reduces the chance of even the most common dental injury by up to 60 times. Sadly, an American Association of Orthodontists commissioned survey found that 67% of parents admitted that their children do not wear a mouth guard during organized sports.“Protecting your teeth and mouth are just as important when playing sports as every other part of your body,” said Dr. Pat Jones, partner with Associated Orthodontists. “Mouth guards are a very simple and effective way to protect your teeth and help prevent maxillofacial injuries. A properly fitted mouth guard will absorb the force of impact to the mouth, and will help protect the teeth, gums, cheeks, lips and jaw.”For those wearing braces, Dr. Jones encourages patients to use a special mouth guard made for specifically for braces. Talk to your orthodontist about your options for a mouth guard if you are undergoing orthodontic care.Associated Orthodontists has six convenient locations in Joliet, Plainfield, Morris, New Lenox, Frankfort and Bourbonnais. Please visit greatbraces.com to find a location near you or to schedule a complimentary consultation.