Mouth Guards To Prevent Sports Injuries
Football and soccer seasons are upon us, and children often suffer injuries to their mouths and teeth. We need to prevent injuries to oral tissues, the breaking and loss of teeth and the surrounding bone, and concussions in body contact and all sports. School-age children are the most vulnerable. Adult players are also at risk.
Mouth guards that are worn save teeth and prevent sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaws. Stock or boil-and-bite type products purchased at sporting goods stores provide some minimal protection. They do not protect as well as what the professional athletes use. Your dentist is the first place to go for information and treatment options. No guard will prevent 100 percent of mouth and jaw injuries.
Q: What is a custom professional-grade mouth guard?
A: These are custom-made devices made of EVA copolymer, vacuum-made or high-heat and -pressure thermoformed. An impression is taken of your mouth. The impression is poured to make a model. This model is used to vacuum-fit a rubber/plastic reinforced material just for you at the dental office or sent to a dental laboratory for fabrication.
These are more desirable than over-the-counter mouth guards with better retention, controlled thickness, less bulk and the ability to adjust. The perfect guard is comfortable, does not affect speech and is tear-resistant, odorless, tasteless and resilient to wear.
Q: What sports require guards?
A: The National Federation of State High School Associations mandates use of protective mouth guards in football, field and ice hockey and lacrosse. The American Dental Association “recommends that athletically active people of all ages use a properly fitted mouth guard in any sporting or recreational activity that may pose risk of an injury.” This includes use in almost 30 sports. The regulated use in these sports may be optional, but an individual’s mouth guard usage should be mandatory.
Q: How expensive are these protective athletic mouth guards?
A: Some custom guards are not a whole lot more expensive than traditionally used ones; the real savings is the significant amount of damage they can prevent.
Q: What do I do if my tooth is knocked loose or completely out?
A: It is important to see the dentist for evaluation after the accident. Even if the teeth are knocked completely out, they sometimes can be put back in. However, they may require root canals and crowns.
Care for trauma-extracted teeth is as follows:
If dirty, rinse them off with pure clean water. Do not brush or wipe them; leave the cells needed for re-attachment. Place back in the victim’s mouth (cheek area works well) if at all possible. Remember don’t swallow them.
If the above is not possible, store in a glass of milk or a wet napkin inside a zip-close bag. Call your dentist. The best success in re-implanting lost teeth occurs within the first 30 minutes.
The important message is wear those custom-fit mouth guards. Prevention is what everyone desires. Be safe.