How to Enjoy Hockey without Hurting Your Smile

hockey-blog-400-504925614Any hockey fans out there?

Earlier this week, the St. Louis Blues had a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium during the Winter Classic 2017.

It was a big game for several reasons:

  • The 2016-’17 season marks the National Hockey League’s 100th
  • The St. Louis Blues are celebrating their 50th
  • Busch Stadium has been around for 10 years.

Not only can hockey be fun to watch, it can be fun to play. And while the sport comes with many rewards, it can be dangerous to your eyes and teeth.

Are the Risks of Hockey Worth the Rewards?

Some of the rewards of hockey include:

  1. It improves fitness. Hockey improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as bone and muscle strength.
  2. It can decrease stress. When you play hockey, dopamine is released in your brain. This can make you happier and more relaxed.
  3. It can help you sleep better. This is also due to dopamine in the brain.
  4. You can learn teamwork and communication skills. You play hockey on a team. To get the puck down the rink, you have to communicate nonverbally with your teammates.
  5. You can concentrate better. Hockey has shifts. A shift is the amount of time a player, line or defense pair is on the ice. Typically, a shift lasts a minute, which, when you’re trying to give it all you got, can require a lot of focus. By learning to focus even after you start to tire, you can stay up on your game. This focus can spill into other areas of your life.
  6. You can make quick decisions. Because hockey is such a fast-paced sport, you have to sharpen your reflexes.
  7. It can build confidence. After seeing the gains from the game, hockey can encourage you to pursue and achieve other goals.

However, hockey is one of the most dangerous sports when it comes to teeth and eye safety.

It’s a full-contact sport. Sticks are slapped at the ice. Pucks can travel to speeds as high as 60 mph. Opponents check one another into walls.

Any of these can cause damage to teeth and eyes.

In fact, this article from the National Hockey League newsroom says losing teeth is just a part of the game.

Four Reasons Hockey Injuries Can Be Devastating

Losing teeth may be a part of the game of hockey, but it shouldn’t be a part of the bigger game of life. Nor should eye injuries be a part of that game. Here’s why:

  1. Missing teeth can make it harder to chew foods. Teeth break down food for proper digestion. Better chewing can better nourish your body, as chewing produces more saliva. Saliva can prevent plaque from building up around teeth and can also aid in the digestion process.
  2. Missing teeth can make it harder to speak. Teeth aid in speech. If you’re missing teeth, your tongue might readjust, which can affect your speaking skills.
  3. Injuries to the eye can affect your vision. This may seem like an obvious thing to write, but consider it for a moment. Your eyes are a window to the world. With impaired sight, it could feel like your window has some annoying smudges.
  4. Damage to teeth and eyes can affect your appearance. When you smile, the first feature many people notice is your teeth. Teeth support the lips and face. Some people have reported their noses and upper lips sagging after losing their two front teeth. Likewise, some people claim eyes are the first feature we fall in love with. Damage to either could rob you of your hard-earned confidence.

Three Pieces You Need to Protect Your Eyes and Teeth

When you play the sport, yes, you want to play for the love of the game. But protecting your eyes and teeth should be No. 1. It’s ok, though. You have a few options:

  1. Always wear a face mask. This doesn’t just apply to goalies. A face mask can protect both your eyes and teeth, and is durable enough to stop a puck flying at 60 mph.
  2. Wear sports goggles. Sports goggles can offer added protection to the eyes where the cracks in the wire mesh of a face mask does not.
  3. Wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard can protect your mouth and jaw. Unfortunately, if a puck flies at your face at 60 mph, a tiny piece of plastic probably isn’t going to do much to save your tooth. Hence the importance of also wearing a face mask. However, the mouth guard isn’t completely useless. Without a mouth guard, the puck might cause far more extensive damage to your jaw.

Hockey, like any other sport, does come with enjoyable moments. But it can be dangerous. Get out, and enjoy the game. Just make sure to protect your eyes and teeth when you do!

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