Mouth Protection During Sports
Dental injuries are the most common type of injuries to the face, and 60% of facial injuries occur during sports practice. An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer damage to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard.
A mouth guard is a flexible piece of plastic that fits around the upper teeth and protects them from injury. In addition to protecting against direct damage to the teeth, by cushioning the lips and cheeks from the teeth or orthodontic appliances, a mouth guard helps prevent laceration and bruising. A mouth guard can also prevent serious injuries caused when the lower jaw is jammed into the upper jaw, including concussion, cerebral hemorrhage, jaw fractures and neck injuries.
Ideal candidate for a guard
In general, the best candidates for mouthguards are people who take part in any activity where there is a strong chance of physical contact with other people or hard surfaces. The American Dental Association recommends that mouthguards be worn while playing any of the following sports: racquetball, rugby, acrobatics, basketball, boxing, field/ice/roller hockey, football, lacrosse, martial arts, skiing, squashball, skydiving, surfing, volleyball, weight lifting, water polo, wrestling, skateboarding, softball and bicycling.
Best guard to choose
There are several types of mouth guards. When choosing one, remember that a mouth guard should be flexible, comfortable, durable, odorless, tasteless, and easy to clean. A mouth guard should fit properly so that it protects your mouth, but does not interfere with breathing or speaking.
The least expensive mouth guard is a stock one sold in sporting goods stores. They come in small, medium, and large and are held in place by biting down. The disadvantage of these mouth guards is that the fit is not adjustable and may not protect your teeth as well as a more fitted model would. Holding these guards in place requires that you bite down, so they can interfere with speech and breathing.
The most commonly used type of mouth guard is also sold in sporting goods stores. They’re called “boil and bite mouth guards,” because they’re softened in boiling water and then formed to fit your mouth. This type of mouth guard costs a little more than the stock types, but because it is formed around your teeth, it fits and protects your mouth better. However, it still may not cover all your teeth properly.
The best mouth guard for preventing injury is one that is custom made for you by your dentist. This type is a bit more expensive, but it is the most effective at protecting your mouth, face and head. Because it is custom fit to your teeth, it’s also the most comfortable to wear. When you consider that the cost of fixing one broken tooth is more expensive than having a mouth guard custom made, the value is obvious. Half of all dental injuries can be prevented, and a mouth guard is an important aid in protecting your teeth, face and mouth.
Who would you choose to care for your dental health?