According to Sports Health, approximately 30 million children and adolescents are involved in sports annually in the United States, and the impact of dental injuries can be significant. Every year, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out in the United States, accruing nearly $500 million in care costs. In addition, treating an avulsed tooth over a lifetime is between $5,000 and $20,000.
Mouthguards are essential equipment to prevent dental injuries and expensive dental treatment. The mouthguard’s role is to shield the teeth from a direct blow leading to fractured or knocked-out teeth; ouch! What should be done if this occurs? This article answers common questions about sports mouthguards, why they are critical and proper care and maintenance. Refer to The Ultimate Dental Trauma Guide for further information on managing dental sports injuries from a dentist’s perspective.Recommended Reading: Five Qualities of a Great Dentist
Sports mouthguards come in all shapes and sizes and serve two roles. First, it protects your teeth from direct impact with an object such as an elbow, ball, puck, or stick. Second, it shields your teeth from impact leading to tooth fracture, jaw fracture, or concussion. Most sports mouthguards encapsulate the upper teeth and fit within the confines of the lips. In addition, some sports mouthguards feature a lip guard that protects the soft tissues of the lip.
Related: Learn more about Oral Appliances
Sports mouthguards are recommended for any adult or child participating in contact sports such as football, basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, etc. Also, consider wearing a mouthguard if you’re participating in any extreme sport such as skateboarding, rollerblading, mountain biking, or BMX riding. If you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth at night or during the day, consider wearing a nightguard to prevent irreversible harm to your teeth.
Custom-fit mouthguards provide the most accurate fit and comfort for your teeth. Teeth and arch sizes range in every individual, so it’s vital to wear a mouthguard that fits your mouth best. Ill-fitting mouthguards can rub lips and cheeks, leading to sore spots or being overextended, leading to a gag response.
Suppose you wear braces or another orthodontic appliance; it’s essential to wear a mouthguard to protect the appliance from damage during impact and protect your teeth, gums, and lips from the sharp wires on the appliance. Consult your dentist or orthodontist regarding what type of mouthguard is best for your situation.
Occasionally, your orthodontist may recommend wearing a lower mouthguard to protect the appliance on your lower teeth. Lastly, Invisalign should not replace a mouthguard during combat sports. Although the Invisalign will keep your teeth aligned, there’s not enough material to prevent damage to your teeth.
Shock Doctor is a leader in mouthguard technology, innovation, and performance. Their products are available in 10,000+ retail stores and are worn by hundreds of professional and collegiate athletes. In addition, they offer a variety of models, including classic, slim fit, and mouthguards for braces.
Sports-related concussions are a significant public health concern. People have become increasingly aware of the correlation between player safety and concussion risk. For example, the NFL has imposed strict rule changes to minimize impacts on the players’ heads. Also, helmet technology has drastically improved and become a multi-million dollar industry in developing superior equipment.
However, the jury is still out regarding the effectiveness of preventing concussions. One particular research article shows a 49% decrease in concussion odds, whereas another meta-analysis article concludes there was no correlation between mouthguard use and decreasing concussions.
Proper fitting mouthguards are essential to provide necessary protection from sports injuries. Mouthguards that show signs of wear and tear should be replaced as soon as possible. Also, an ill-fitting mouthguard may occur because adolescents hit multiple growth spurts. As their mouth changes in size, replace their mouthguard accordingly. Also, bring their mouthguard into the dental office so the dentist can confirm it still fits to form.
Sports-related injuries are common during competitive contact sports. Is it possible to decrease the risk of oral injuries when wearing a mouthguard? Many research articles suggest that. With so many great products available, get in the game and find one that fits you to prevent painful and costly dental injuries.
The more you know, the more healthy habits you can develop, saving you and your family from avoidable and potentially expensive dental procedures. Talk to your dental professional for more suggestions on improving oral health and check back for more blog posts and relevant information. Please share this site and let us know what else you’d like to know!