The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) is urging young athletes to "watch their mouths" as part of its 2008 Root Canal Awareness Week campaign. The initiative, which takes place March 30 through April 5, focuses on important dental education and is part of the AAE’s ongoing commitment to promoting the value of preserving natural teeth.

An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury such as an avulsed tooth when not wearing a protective mouthguard, and the number of sports-related dental injuries is increasing. Considering this, the AAE urges all coaches and parents to enforce mouthguard use in an effort to protect young athletes’ natural teeth. According to an official position statement released by the Association, mouthguards are recommended for all sports, including spring sports such as lacrosse, softball, track and field, and gymnastics. Mouthguard usage prevents an estimated 200,000 injuries per year.

"Mouthguards are not just for kids that play rough contact sports," says Shepard S. Goldstein, DMD, AAE’s president and an endodontist from Framingham, Mass. "It is essential that children’s teeth be protected from dental injury when they play any physical sport, which is why this year’s Root Canal Awareness Week message is so important. The AAE wants athletes, coaches, and parents to know that mouthguard use is imperative for all sports, even those not commonly thought of as being hazardous."

While custom mouthguards professionally fitted by a dentist offer the best protection from dental injury, using any type of mouthguard helps to safeguard natural teeth and reduce the chance of dental trauma. When using mouthguards, it’s important to properly maintain and clean them to prevent any possible infections.

Sponsored by the AAE, Root Canal Awareness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of endodontics as a specialty, as well as highlight the importance of endodontists, the dentists who specialize in root canal treatment. The week also seeks to dispel long-standing myths about root canal treatment and increase understanding of the procedure as one that is virtually painless. For more information on local Root Canal Awareness Week activities, the importance of mouthguards, or to find an endodontist in your area, visit