The dentists in the Kiwanis Club of Evanston approached Evanston Township High School in 2007 about providing customized mouth guards for all student athletes who wanted them.
Mouth guards can be purchased easily, but they are referred to as “boil and bite” standard sizes that are not fitted for the individual student. Obviously, a hulking lineman is not going to have the same size mouth as a smaller player.
As health care professionals, the dentists felt this was a problem that Kiwanis could rectify.
ETHS was pleased to offer the program to its athletes. Two dentists started the effort, Dr. Stamata Blanas and Dr. Scott Hopf, both former club presidents, with Dr. Hopf continuing to work on the program with the assistance of a member who acts as secretary for the program.
Contributions are accepted from Kiwanis and parents whose children make up some of the athletes participating in contact sports. Since its inception, the club has contributed more than $13,000 of product.
The students are measured and fitted for the mouth guards, then the molds are sent directly to a dental facility which makes them into the custom fitting appliance for the students.
When the customized mouth guards arrive, the dentists – who include Dr. Hopf and more recently Dr. Richard Prendergast, also a Kiwanis member – further customize the guards with an orange and blue logo, the Evanston Wildkit colors. More than 400 athletes and some coaches have participated in the program.
Chris Livatino, Director of Athletics at Evanston Township High School, said, “We’re very pleased to be able to offer our athletes a ‘premium’ experience as they compete, the mouth guards are part of that experience for our kids.”