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Mouth Protection Program
Mouth injuries often result in pain, lost time from work for treatment, and facial disfigurement. Tooth loss due to injuries is more common among Army Soldiers than among members of the other branches of service.
These injuries can be prevented. A USAPHC review found that:
- Use of mouthguards can reduce dental and orofacial injuries by almost two thirds (60% fewer injuries). Any type of mouthguard prevents injuries, as long as the material does not become thinned when it is being fitted.
- Mouthguards only need to cover the teeth and the gums around the teeth - large, bulky rims covering the entire gum area or roof of the mouth are not necessary.
- Providing trainees with mouthguards during pugil stick training, M16 with bayonet training, and confidence course training decreased the total number of mouth injuries by 74%. (From a pilot study at Fort Leonard Wood in 1999)
Soldiers can benefit from using mouthguards if they are involved in training activities or sports events that could result in:
- Head to head contact
- Tooth clenching
- Blows to the mouth
Injury Prevention with Mouthguards (USAPHC Fact Sheet)
Starting a Mouthguard Program
Before implementing a program, gather information to support resource requests. Talk to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility where Soldiers are treated after hours, and the unit’s assigned Dental Treatment Facility (DTF). The DTF may be able to provide information on the number of Soldiers with orofacial injuries that they treat each month.
If you need to gather information, record the number and types of orofacial injuries that Soldiers are experiencing for about three months. Once you have collected the information, present it to your Senior Leaders. Once buy-in from Senior Leaders is obtained, start the program.
Evaluating Program Success
After setting up your program, continue collecting injury reports for six months to a year to show how well your program is working. Sites that have successfully collected orofacial injury information have utilized the following procedures:
- High-level leadership commitment from both unit commanders and dental service providers.
- Adaptation of the mouth protection program to the local needs of the target group.
- Clearly delegated responsibility for coordinating the activities of the mouth protection program.
- Continuous quality improvement driven by the information that is collected
Other Mouth Protection Program resources