WAXAHACHIE — While players filtered through lines picking up equipment Thursday at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium, a local dentist's office offered pro bono work 500 feet away as important as the shoulder pads and helmets players will wear on game days.

Dr. Scott Clinton, Dr. Kasey Hawkins and the dental assistants of Waxahachie Family Dentistry, located at 125 Park Place Blvd., donated more than $38,250 in custom-fitted mouth guards and services to 170 Indian football players. It is the third consecutive year the office held the event but the first its outfitted both junior varsity and varsity athletes.

"It's always been our desire as a dental office to reach out to the community. It's part of the philosophy of what our doctors want to be in Waxahachie," Marketing Coordinator Noelle Carmen said. "The more we can do, the better. Football is near and dear to Dr. Clinton's heart and he is usually on the sidelines ready to take care of any dental issues."

Clinton, a general dentist and a doctor of dental surgery, is certified in intravenous sedation, an expert in sleep medicine and specializes in the dental treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Much like the yearly task of outfitting players with mouthpieces, he offers his dental expertise during football games at no charge.

The mouthpiece is an important equipment item on every football player's list, Clinton said after citing a recent CTE study. He added custom-molded mouth guards are proven more effective in player safety than store-bought "boil and bite" ones.

"We fit the trays to each athlete's mouth to make custom athletic mouth guards. Once we have an impression, we pour up models and deliver guards that professional athletes would wear," Clinton continued. "We're trying to ensure as much player safety as we can. If having a custom mouthguard can give them an advantage toward that, we're all for it."

Off-the-shelf oral protection contains either plastic or protective ethylene-vinyl acetate, commonly known as EVA. The custom-fitted mouthpieces Waxahachie Family Dentistry donated to the Indian football program were composed of alginate, an elastic, irreversible hydrocolloid impression material.

Unlike over-the-counter mouth guards, no two custom mouth guards are the same. For that reason, they provide complete protection for the mouth, Clinton stated.

"The biggest difference is that a 'boil and bite' is a one size fits all," he continued. "When you have a custom-fitted mouthguard, it's protecting all the areas [of the teeth] and not just the areas you happen to bite into. When people have alterations in where they bite, they won't be [fully] protected by the mouthguard."

Waxahachie Dentistry also provides free services to military members and veterans on Veteran's Day and everyone during its annual "Dentistry from the Heart" drive on Oct. 7.

Carmen said Waxahachie residents can receive treatment from teeth cleanings to cavities, extractions or root canals during the event — any dental service that can be completed in a day.

----   Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.