Mouthguard fitting fundraiser supports local youth hockey |

Mouthguard fitting fundraiser supports local youth hockey

Benton Sherman, 10, checks out the putty imprint of his teeth shown off by Dr. Bill Schwartz on Thursday at Pine Grove Dental Arts in Steamboat Springs. That imprint will be used to create a sports mouth guard. Pine Grove Dental Arts will be making such mouth guards for all comers between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday for a minimum $20 donation for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association.

— It amounts to a full day of work, an office filled with teenagers and, because the office staff volunteers its time, no pay.

The "why" behind "Mouthguard Day" at Pine Grove Dental Arts in Steamboat Springs is pretty straightforward, however.

"It's to protect the smiles," office manager Kara Baker said.

The dental office on Pine Grove Road is offering to fit sports mouthguards to youth athletes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, asking only for a minimum donation of $20. All that collected money in turn will be donated to the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association. The $20 donation includes the cost of the new mouthguard as well as the custom fitting.

Appointments are preferred, Baker said, but walk-ins are welcome.

The primary focus of the event is set on hockey. While the gap-toothed look may be a sign of accomplishment in the NHL, it's less than desirable for high schoolers. One errant puck can leave a heck of an imprint, but a mouthguard can help prevent that damage.

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The event is not at all limited to skaters.

"If someone is out skiing on the slopes and hit their head, they could damage their teeth," Baker said. "If they weren't wearing a mouthguard, they could do that damage by biting down really hard, and a mouthguard protects them. It's an overall protection for your teeth and your smile."

Dr. Bill Schwartz said the event has become a staple of the practice since he first brainstormed it nine years ago. The staff is expecting between 50 and 60 athletes this year, and they've cared for as many as 70 in previous years.

"I've had an association with hockey growing up, then here in Steamboat, coaching and with other aspects of the youth hockey program for the last 10 years," he said. "This is a way I thought of to do something for one of the youth programs in town. The kids, they need mouthguards to abide by the rules and for their own protection. I thought this was a good way to meet people in town and to give back."

New mouthguards and the custom fittings typically cost about $60. Schwartz said the fundraiser usually pulls in about $1,000.

"It helps pay for uniforms, ice time and some of the disadvantaged kids can get scholarships," Schwartz said. "We donate the time, the expertise and all of the materials, and all of the proceeds go to the program."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email