When orthodontist Jeff Eberting first volunteered to make mouth guards at no charge for each of the four football teams in Blount County, he knew it would take some convincing.
“The first year of us doing this, I told the staff, ‘We are going to have to be aggressive in this project. The second year, it will take one phone call, and the third year, they’ll call us,’” he said.
Turns out Eberting’s predictions were pretty on target.
“The first year we were doing this, I had to hound the powers-that-be to make this happen. I would call coaches and wasn’t getting return calls. Then I wrote three letters - to each coach, athletic director and principal. I just wanted somebody to make this happen.”
Eberting’s persistence paid off. This is the fifth season he and his staff at the Smithview Drive office have created mouth guards for members of each of the area’s football teams.
“Now we just block off the time and get each team scheduled. We can get each team done in a half day. We allocate two days and get all four teams fitted with mouth guards. We have all the teams in, and we serve some kind of meal, whether it is breakfast or a mid-afternoon meal,” he said. “My assistants take impressions of each player’s mouth.”
Eberting said the molds are marked, and the guard is made using a rubber, poly-vinyl material that is heated up and gives a custom fit to each player’s teeth. The mouth guards are delivered to the teams in about a week, he said.
The Maryville orthodontist said safety is the most important issue for the football players if they are hit and their teeth click together during a play. “This mouth guard creates a cushion between the upper and lower teeth. If a player doesn’t have a guard, and they take a hit, they could fracture their teeth or their jaw,” he said. “If a player falls the wrong way and his teeth come together, you could have fractured teeth.”
Eberting said his staff has a fun time with the players, and the players usually don’t get nervous about having a dental mold made. “They’ve come to accept it, and the coaches are good about making sure everyone gets here. We make it a fun atmosphere for the guys.”