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Hartland Smilemakers to Help Youth Athletes, Charity

Dentists will fit sport guards for free or donation for Gleaners on Wednesday.

is once again planning to have dozens of youth athletes say "ahh" for a good cause and to help them prepare for the fall season.

The dentists are offering free sport mouth guards to area children including participants in the Hartland Area Youth Athletic Association from 1:30-6 p.m. Wednesday at their office, 11499 Highland Rd.

In exchange, the office is encouraging donations of food or $10 with all the proceeds going to Gleaners Food Bank. It is the second year for the event.

“The price of a mouth guard is pretty minimal,” said Dr. Chris McDaniel of the Hartland Smilemakers, who along with his father, Ken, have been helping local charities, specifically Gleaners, for more than 20 years.

“We went and looked at what the cost of a boil and biter store-bought mouth guard was and we said ‘Hey, if you want to donate that, we’ll turn it right over to Gleaners,” he said.

The custom-fitted sports guard, according to McDaniel, are more comfortable and cover more mouth area than the store-bought guards.

“The nice thing about HAYAA and the way that we started out through HAYAA is they’re required to have a mouth guard with a strap,” McDaniel said. “So it wasn’t an issue of are they going to wear it or not going to wear it.”

The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards alone prevented approximately 200,000 sports injuries in high school and college football players and also had a 50 percent chance of reducing the opportunity for concussions. They also help to prevent tooth chips and loss.

Sandy Ziebold of HAYAA said the organization is grateful for the partnership to be able to benefit its players.

"HAYAA is very fortunate to have the opportunity to partner up with Hartland Smilemakers to provide these custom fit mouthguards to compliment HAYAA’s tradition of providing the most superb football equipment to its players," she said in an email to Hartland Patch.

McDaniel speaks from experience since growing up his brother chipped a tooth from a sports injury.

“It was a requirement,” he said of his dentist father who was constantly reminding his children to wear their mouth guards.

“My Dad would come home from work and be like, ‘where’s your mouth guard?'” McDaniel said. “I was like, ‘we’re just playing in the driveway,’ but you still had to have your mouth guard in.”

Last year, the Smilemakers team was able to raise $1,500 for the VINA Community Dental Center in Brighton and are hoping to have an even larger turnout this year as word spreads.

“The custom mouth guards are actually very popular,” Smilemaker dental assistant Julie Richardson said. “We have found that we have patients asking about them, about getting them done and it kind of sparked a promotion for us. And then to do this for our community, we're able to get more involved.”

Appointments to have the sports guards made are preferred, although no one willing to donate to the cause will be turned away.

“We’ll have a lot of kids come in, so it’ll be busy,” said McDaniel who is happy that Smilemakers is able to provide a service to all the young athletes while helping out Gleaners Food Bank as well.

McDaniel also provided a little advice.

“Brush and floss before the games. … and if they have a custom-made mouth guard, maybe they’ll get an extra touchdown.”

To schedule your sports guard fitting appointment on Wednesday from 1:30 p.m.-6 p.m., call (810) 632-5533.

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