For the last 10 years orthodontist John Fishell, DDS, of Pittsburgh has donated nearly 1,000 mouthguards 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 four sports-related teeth injuries per month that could have been prevented with a mouthguard, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"Although mouthguards 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 underused, 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, and parents, and distribute the free mouthguards 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 mouthguard on a televised game, for instance, it helps promote their use," Fishell said.