Stop Sports Injuries: Wear Mouthguards
Football and soccer seasons are here. Sports related oral and dental injuries are commonplace. School age children are the most likely to suffer injuries to their mouths and teeth.
Athletic mouthguards that are worn save teeth and surrounding bone from breaking. They prevent lacerations and bruising of the lips and cheeks.
A mouth guard should always be a part of your sport’s gear. To be effective as a protector the mouthguard needs to fit and stay in place. Stock or boil and bite type products purchased at sporting goods stores or online provide some degree of function. 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% of mouth and jaw injuries.
There is a difference between a boil and bite guard and a custom made protective athletic mouthguard?
The purpose of the guard is to prevent your top and bottom teeth from contacting each other during violent contact.
Custom is more desirable than over-the-counter mouthguards with better retention, controlled thickness, less bulk and the ability to adjust. The devices are made of EVA copolymer, vacuum made or high heat and pressure thermoformed. For a custom guard, 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.
The perfect guard would be comfortable, not affect speech, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless and resilient to wear. 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.
Tooth damage from accidents is not only expensive to repair at the time of initial injury, but remakes will be necessary over the patient’s lifetime.
The National Federation of State High School Associations mandates use of protective mouthguards 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 mouthguard usage should be mandatory.
Mouthguard Care and Replacement
Talk to out dental staff about when is the right time to replace your mouthguard. Replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear, distortion, damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.
Between uses, keep your mouthguard clean and dry.
Regularly clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water. Then, rinse it thoroughly.
During your regular dental checkups, always bring your mouthguard for a thorough cleaning.
Store and transport the mouthguard in a sturdy closed container that has vents so it can dry.
Never leave the mouthguard in the sun. Check fit for signs of wear and tear to see if it needs replacing. Also, remember, dogs see any dental appliance as a chew toy. Store your mouthguard in its case don’t leave in plain sight.
The important message is to wear a well fitted mouthguard and take proper care of it.
Prevention of injury is what everyone desires. Play safe and have fun.