Ann Arbor, Mich., July 29, 2019 -- A.J. King’s youth hockey league has a rule against “checking” -- banging into other players on purpose -- but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of accidental contact. That’s why A.J. came to the annual Mouth Guard Clinic at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry on Saturday with his grandfather, Keith Schmidt.
A.J. sat patiently in the dental chair as dental student Hasan Alyousuf started the mouth guard process. A mushy material with the consistency of oatmeal is placed in the athlete’s mouth for a few minutes. When it begins to harden, it is removed and provides a negative impression of the athlete’s teeth. In a nearby lab room, other students then pour a substance called “stone” into the first impression. It hardens and provides a perfect cast of the teeth. A sheet of plastic is then heated and a vacuum device pulls the plastic down tightly over the cast of the teeth, creating a perfect fit. When the plastic cools, the excess around the edges is trimmed away and any rough edges are buffed. After about an hour, A.J. had a new bright-blue mouth guard that he took home to Saline.
The free mouth guards are provided as a community service each year by the School of Dentistry. The clinic is a longstanding summer tradition, timed to help athletes who will play in the fall sports seasons, although the mouth guards are for all sports any time of the year. The process for making them dates back several decades to dental school faculty who saw a need to protect University of Michigan football players from concussions and damage to their teeth. The faculty developed the process for making custom-fit models and soon mouth guards were being used all across the country by athletes of all ages in any sport where a player’s teeth or mouth might be injured.
About 25 mouth guards were made for clinic participants on Saturday by dental and dental hygiene students, supervised by clinical faculty members.
“It was good to meet the parents and grandparents who brought their children in for mouth guards because they recognize how important it is to protect their teeth and mouth from accidental injury during sports,” said Joe Samona, one of the student organizers of the event. “We also had several adults come in for mouth guards. Child or adult, a mouth guard is recommended for those involved in sports. Injuries can happen even in non-contact sports if the athlete falls or is accidentally hit with another player’s elbow, for example."
Samona also thanked the dental students, faculty and staff who volunteered their time. “Providing this free clinic every year is a great experience for our students because community service is important in the dentistry profession,” he said.
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare 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. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu. Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at email@example.com, or (734) 615-1971.