Customized mouth guards free to student athletes and others

July 15, 1999
Written By:
Nancy Ross-Flanigan

Customized mouth guards free to student athletes and others

ANN ARBOR—In exchange for a few hours on a summer Saturday, active kids and adults can get a mouthful of protection from sports injuries. On July 31, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry will offer free, customized athletic mouth guards to elementary, middle school, high school and college students and the general public.

Impressions will be made 9 a.m.-noon on the third floor of the School of Dentistry Building. Once in the dental chair, the impression process takes about 20 minutes. (Depending on the crowd, there may be a 30- to 45-minute wait for a free chair). The finished guards will be available for fitting and pickup one to three hours after the impressions are made.

As they have every summer since 1987, U-M School of Dentistry faculty and students and several local dentists will volunteer their time to make the protective guards. No appointments are necessary—it’s first-come, first-served while supplies last. The clinic will have supplies for making about 125 mouth guards in a variety of colors, and organizers recommend arriving early to get the best choice. Schools may also send their athletic trainers to receive instruction in the proper use of mouth guards.

Mouth guards not only protect the teeth, lips, cheek and tongue, they also help prevent head and neck injuries such as concussions and jaw fractures, says William C. Godwin, U-M professor emeritus of dentistry and a specialist in sports dentistry. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, dental and facial injuries have been significantly reduced in sports such as football, lacrosse and ice hockey, in which kids are required to wear protective equipment. However, such injuries are also a risk in other sports and leisure activities such as soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, skateboarding, bicycling and in-line skating. The Academy recommends protective equipment for kids participating in all such activities.

Custom-made mouth guards are considerably more comfortable than off-the-shelf guards sold in stores, Godwin notes. And the more comfortable the guards are, the more likely kids are to wear them.

Godwin stresses that the mouth guard clinic is not just for Ann Arbor residents and not just for kids. In previous years, adults who participate in whitewater kayaking, karate, tae kwon do, touch football, soccer and weightlifting have been fitted with mouth guards.

The clinic is funded by a grant from Samuel Harris, a U-M dental graduate who practices in Detroit.

For more information, call (734) 763-3313, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

The U-M School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, and patient care. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout southeast Michigan and the state. Classroom and clinic instruction trains future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia, and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. More information about the U-M School of Dentistry is available on the World Wide Web at

Jerry Mastey

U-M News and Information Services
University of Michigan

School of DentistryWilliam C. Godwinhttp://www.dent.umich.edujmastey@umich.edu News and Information ServicesUniversity of Michigan