(WBAY) -- Dentists are reminding student athletes about the importance of wearing a mouth guard if they are playing sports.
With the start of school right around the corner, thousands of young athletes are heading to football, soccer and volleyball practice. But aside from football, in which mouth guards are mandatory, dentists say many children are missing that important piece of equipment.
According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists, 84 percent of children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports.
Dentists say a mouth guard should be worn in every sport because it helps cushion a blow to the face--- minimizing the risk of chipping, breaking or knocking out teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face and jaw.
"Wear a mouth guard if you are doing sports, it's just worth it, it's just a good insurance policy, knocking a tooth out is not fun and it's going to cost you a lot more money and time, and you don't necessarily want to see us, and I would do it, you can't prevent all injuries but it certainly helps,” says Dr. Sam Schmidt with Dental Associates.
The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates that more than 3 million teeth are knocked out every year in youth sporting events.
It also reports that athletes who don't wear mouth guards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth.