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Sports & Facial Protection: Play it Safe!

ben-hershey-560952-unsplashPlay it safe! April is National Facial Protection Month and the surgeons of Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery urge professional, amateur and recreational athletes to protect their faces and mouths. According to Dr. M. James Clark, a board-certified oral surgeon with Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, “We see about a dozen students each year that experience facial trauma during sports practice and games.” Although not all sports-related injuries can be avoided, there are some steps that players can take to minimize their risks.

“Wear a helmet!” says Dr. Clark. Whether you play football, baseball, or lacrosse, wearing a helmet is the best way to prevent a serious injury. New innovations in helmet technology make them comfortable and effective in protecting the players’ maxillofacial area. In addition to a helmet, Dr. Clark recommends that players wear a mouth guard that will protect players against loss of teeth or injuries to the jaw. New designs of mouth guards are lightweight, easy to wear and provide excellent protection for the teeth, gums and lips.

What to Do When Injured

In the unfortunate event that a player suffers an injury to his/her face or jaw during practice or a game, call 911 if the player is unconscious, disoriented, nauseated, dizzy or incapacitated. If the injuries are not this severe but still require immediate attention, it is advised to take the player to nearest emergency room. While at the hospital, request a consultation with an oral & maxillofacial surgeon, the most qualified specialist to deal with trauma to the face and mouth. The surgeon will be able to diagnose and treat fractures that involve the upper or lower jaw, cheekbones and eye sockets. The oral & maxillofacial surgeon will also examine and treat the player for injuries to facial nerves, salivary glands and salivary ducts. Timely attention to facial injuries will result in the most favorable outcome both aesthetically and functionally.
“Play hard, but be smart,” says Dr. Clark. “Pack your safety gear!  And, on your way to practice, wear your seat belt in the car. You can’t be too safe."

Dr. M. James Clark is a board-certified oral surgeon at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. For more information about Dr. Clark and his colleagues, please visit

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