Guide to Dental Safety for Youth Sports in Johns Creek GA

Johns Creek Youth Sports Safety Equipment for Smiles
We have many superstars in training that come through our practice. It’s amazing to see so many of our patients engaging in the youth leagues of Johns Creek.  Our pediatric dental team has been treating the children of Johns Creek for many years and after some cases of our patients having accidents of broken or chipped teeth, we decided to put together as comprehensive guide as possible of all the different sports and what we advise for parents to encourage smile safety.

The two main organizations that run youth sports in Johns Creek:

  1. Newtown Recreation
  2. OCEE Park Johns Creek

Both organizations take strong measures in ensuring the safety of all our little superstars in training. Newton Recreation and OCEE both even has a page completely dedicated to addressing the concern over concussions.

Instead of splitting this into different organizations, we have decided to address the equipment and teeth safety concerns of each by sport.

We will be going over the sports below:

  1. Baseball
  2. Basketball
  3. Flag Football
  4. Soccer
  5. Lacrosse
  6. Other Sports

For those who are participating in the city of Alpharetta, you can refer to our Alpharetta Youth Sports guide.

Baseball

As opposed to the physicality of basketball and football, baseball is much more deliberate and has isolated incidents that parents should be aware of. Where there is no tackling or boxing out, there is a ball being thrown around in the air and bats being swung.

In addition, there are MANY factors that many parents, fans and players overlook when it comes to not only the playing of the game, but also the spirit and the culture of the game.

Proper Facial/Helmet Protection

When batting, there are different types of helmets that players can choose from. The most common ones are the ones that protect your ear and the head. However, we do encourage kids who are batting to consider wearing helmets with a face cage or at least an ear flap.

The extra protection of the face cage and ear flap can help lessen the blow of a rogue baseball that is ricocheting to a face.

What can be hard for kids is that many of their baseball heroes in the MLB do not typically wear any helmets that include the face cage or ear flap, however getting a child started early in their playing career can help get them used to the helmets which can circumvent their need to wear exactly what their baseball heroes are wearing.

It’s also good to talk to your child’s coach about using these different helmets so that your child can have positive reinforcement from their authority figures on helmet choice.

Newton’s Baseball divisions are as follows:

  • 4-5 years old T-Ball
  • 6 years old Coach Pitch Baseball
  • 7-8 years old Coach Pitch Baseball
  • 9-11 years old Player Pitch Baseball

OCEE’s Baseball divisions are:

  • TBall
  • 6U
  • 7-8U
  • 9-10U
  • 11-12U
  • 13-15U

For those kids in T-ball, it may not be necessary to get a face cage or ear flap as there is no ball being thrown at them. However, we do encourage that for any other children who play in the league who have pitches, to get the helmets with extra protection. Though pitches may not be thrown very fast, often times wild pitches may occur.

Pitching Rules

When reviewing the equipment rules for the leagues, we were impressed by the organizations foresight. For both Newton and OCEE we found that for the 7-8 year old division, any player that plays the pitcher position is required to wear “protective face equipment and/or caged helmet.” This rule is mandatory and one that fits right along with what we spoke about above.

Balls being hit at the pitcher is probably one of the more scarier parts of baseball, but having this required rule helps lessen the blow of any of these scary occasions.

We didn’t find this rule in any of the other divisions. This was the case for both leagues so we are assuming that the rule is not mandated after the 7 – 8 year old mark. However, for pitchers we do encourage them to wear a mouthguard while they are pitching.

Helmets Don’t Cancel Out Mouthguards

It’s easy to think that the helmet will make the need for a mouthguard unnecessary, however, this isn’t the case. If you remember that the use of the helmet is only used during batting or if your the catcher.

While players are on defense, they still will be interacting with balls being hit. When they try to catch fly balls, catch a throw from a teammate, or tag someone out there is still many possibilities for injuries to the face.

The easiest to think of is a missed catch. We’ve all been there where the ball is all but coming to your glove and all of a sudden, miss and you get a facefull of baseball. This is where it’s important to have a mouth guard.

A mouth guard will help take care of all of those instances where players will not have their helmet on. The mouthguard will help absorb contact and prevent any teeth from being knocked out.

Chewing Gum & Sunflower Seeds

A large part of baseball culture involves chewing and spitting. That is what makes baseball so beautiful is the culture that has formed around it. However, many of these habits can be awful for your teeth.

For chewing gum, we think it’s obvious that you refrain from any sugary gum. Common favorites include Big League Chew, Wrigley’s and Juicy Fruit. Many of these brands have different flavors and sugar free options, if your child wants to start chewing gum, considering purchasing them their own pack so that they don’t make a bad habit of chewing sugary gum.

Also, we need to talk about sunflower seeds. For a young child’s teeth, if they are constantly cracking shells open with their teeth, especially the same set of teeth, it will start to weather down and weaken your teeth. Be mindful of how much your child is chewing on gum and biting on sunflower seeds.

Lastly, though it is rare, it does occur and we need to talk about it. Chewing tobaccos is a no go! It stains your teeth and will cause carcinogens to eat away at your jaw and health.

With baseball especially the chance of contact is much more isolated, but when there is impact, it is intense. Also, unlike any other sport, baseball carries with it much tradition that has unintended consequences for your child’s smile. When signing up for baseball, be mindful of what we spoke about above.

Basketball

The Johns Creek basketball leagues are provided by Newtown and they are split up into boys and girls leagues:

Boy Basketball League

  • 7-8 Boys Basketball
  • 9-10 Boys Basketball
  • 11-12 Boys Basketball
  • 13-14 Boys Basketball

Girls Basketball League

  • 7-8 Girls Basketball
  • 9-11 Girls Basketball

When comparing the sports that incorporate a ball, basketball may have the highest amount of content with the least amount of protection. The official Uniforms and Playing Requirements for Newton is:

  • Each Player will be issued a jersey top uniform
  • All players must wear shoes with no marking rubber soles
  • All players remove all jewelry

Beyond that there are no equipment or uniform rules. In this case, for basketball and teeth the only addition we can make is to wear a mouthguard.

Mouthguards and Basketball

There is a lot of contact in basketball. It’s a part of the game and it’s encouraged to initiate contact with your opponent for fouls or spacing. So during the game, elbows and bodies are constantly getting hit.

Many people can get their mouths hit and have teeth knocked out. In the NBA, there are many instances of players getting their teeth knocked out.

It’s really simple, just have your child put the mouthguard whenever they step onto the court. While on the bench or timeouts they won’t need to wear the mouthguard. Only do so during play.

Flag Football

Another popular sport for many of our kids, flag football offers the fun of football without the high intensity impact. Johns Creek’s flag football leagues are run by Newton Recreation and have the following leagues:

  • 6-7 YR. OLD LEAGUE
  • 8-9 YR. OLD LEAGUE
  • 10/11 YR. OLD LEAGUE
  • 12/13 YR. OLD LEAGUE
  • 14/15 YR. OLD LEAGUE
  • 16-18 YR. OLD LEAGUE

As opposed to many flag football leagues that don’t have very many equipment requirements we were impressed to see that Newton’s flag football rules do requires “All players…to wear a protective mouthpiece”.

In addition, many of the high contact portions of the game have been taken out which heavily reduces the risk of injury. This includes the elimination of the fumble, where dog piles can often happen.

No Helmets or Facemasks, Yes to Mouthguards

The rules stipulate that hard head protectors and facemasks are not allowed. We would assume that this also means football helmets are not allowed. In this case, we think that this is totally understandable as flag football strips football of its dangerous contact and tries to keep everything as safe as possible.

Having some kids wear helmets and some not would give an unfair advantage while also putting those kids who don’t have helmets on in danger.

However, as we said earlier, the league does mandate mouth guards. Though flag football is meant to be non contact, the Newton rules stipulate the following:

This is FLAG football. Incidental contact will occur but unnecessary and/or deliberate and/or severe contact must be penalized. Safety is our number one concern and responsibility

With flags being ripped off an unintentional colliding, we totally approve of the mandatory mouthguard rule.

Soccer

Soccer has the widest variety of options for the community. The divisions for the Johns Creek Youth Soccer League:

Co-ed Soccer

  • U4 Coed
  • U5 Coed

Boys Soccer

  • U6 Boys
  • U8 Boys
  • U10 Boys
  • U12 Boys

Girls Soccer

  • U6 Girls
  • U8 Girls
  • U10 Girls
  • U12 Girls

For soccer the uniform and equipment are listed as follows:

  1. Jersey top uniform & soccer Socks
  2. Shin guards
  3. Soccer/tennis shoes

Soccer is similar to basketball in that the purpose of the game is not to hit each other, but it is a contact sport. Elbows and legs fly around and can hit people. Many youth sports especially with soccer has falling and hitting chins on the ground or worse yet other people’s feet.

With soccer as well, there are headers where kids can be throwing their heads around and accidentally collide with someone else’s head. Though soccer for children may be played on grass and isn’t famous for having the injuries that football and baseball have, soccer does have many aspects that can be painful and detrimental to your child’s teeth.

And when looking at the statistics from a study from Delta Dental, “soccer players are more likely than football players to sustain a dental-related injury”.

Lacrosse

Lacrosse, like flag football, offers completely co-ed leagues. The age divisions for the Johns Creek Youth Lacrosse League are:

  • 7-8 years old
  • 9-10 years old
  • 11-12 years old
  • 12-13 years old

The uniforms and equipment for lacrosse are a little bit more detailed than the other sports, as they should be.

When reviewing the rules of Lacrosse, in the uniforms section you’ll see that the Newton league requires equipment as follows:

Girls must wear mouthguards and goggles

Boys must wear a helmet, mouthguard, gloves and pads.

Both the boys and girls are supposed to wear mouthguards, but it seems like the girls are exempt from wearing a helmet or pads. We were unable to identify why the equipment rules were different based on gender.  When reviewing the rules there didn’t seem to be anything that had different rules for the boys as opposed to the girls.

With lacrosse it combines the danger of baseball and contact sports like basketball and soccer. Sticks are flying, balls are being slingshotted and people are ramming into each other.

We encourage everyone when playing lacrosse to wear a mouth guard and a helmet. The mouthguard will help protect your teeth, but with people wielding lacrosse sticks and swinging them around, you may want to include a helmet.

For parents, we encourage when joining the co-ed lacrosse teams to have your child wear a helmet, boy or girl. You may want to discuss with the coaches to discuss this added protection.

Other Sports – Running, Tennis & Golf

We also found many other great organizations for youth sports in Johns Creek. There were the following that we found:

Running: https://www.girlsontherunatlanta.org/

Golf – http://www.noyceswing.com/

Tennis – https://newtownrec.com/camps/youth-tennis-camp/

For these sports, these don’t need any extra protection. With these three sports, there isn’t contact or high chances of elbows or hits to the face. Of course, for all of these there is a chance of freak accidents happen, but in the normal game to game, there shouldn’t be a high chance of dental accidents.

If your child and you want to be extra careful you can have them wear a mouthguard for these sports, but we don’t think it is necessary.

Summarizing the Youth Sports in Johns Creek

Johns Creek offers a pretty replete array of sports for our children. The organizations that run these sports all do a great job of making sure to keep safety first. However, in the fun of the game, people can forget or don’t want to deal with the minor uncomfort of remembering safe habits.

For any sport, you’ll want to always wear a mouthguard, especially when there is contact in the sports. There are some that we have listed above that you may even want to wear helmets with extra protection for the mouth.

Drop us a comment below and let us know what sports your children do and what you’ve done to minimize the risk of dental injuries.

Dr. Nanna Ariaban

Dr. Nanna Ariaban

Pediatric Dentist at Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry
Dr. Nanna Ariaban is a board certified pediatric dentist and owner of Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry located in Alpharetta GA. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Georgia Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association. Dr. Nanna provides highest quality pediatric dental care in Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and Roswell, GA for infants, children, and teens. She was recently voted as America's top pediatric dentist for two years in a row.
Dr. Nanna Ariaban

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