For the last 10 years orthodontist John Fishell, DDS, of Pittsburgh has donated nearly 1,000 mouth guards to students between 8 and 18 years of age who are involved in school sports and recreation athletic leagues. Fishell started his program after seeing nearly 4 sports-related teeth injuries per month that could have been prevented with a mouth guard, according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
"Although mouth guards are mandatory in sports—such as boxing, football and lacrosse they weren’t accepted in other sports until a few years ago," Fishell told the Post-Gazette. "They’re still under-used and [that] results in a lot of preventable injuries to teeth and jaws in sports such as baseball, softball, and basketball."
Fishell and his staff give talks to local teams, coaches, parents and distribute the free mouth guards to the young athletes near his offices in Peters, Pleasant Hills, Charleroi, and Connellsville, Pa.
Fishell told the Post-Gazette that he believes sports celebrities have a role to play in getting the message to young athletes.
"When a youngster sees Sydney Crosby remove a mouth guard on a televised game, for instance, it helps promote their use," said Fishell.