How to Protect Teeth from Sports Injuries
Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to their teeth when not wearing a mouth guard. Furthermore, 80% of dental injuries occur to the top front teeth, which are usually covered by a mouth guard. But how do mouth guards protect the teeth? A mouth guard forms a protective layer between the teeth and point of impact when properly worn.
How should mouth guards be worn?
A mouth guard should fit snug against the upper teeth without the wearer needing to bite down or clench. It should stay secure without falling out or shifting. If the athlete needs to bite down or clench to keep the mouth guard in place, it’s not a proper fit.
Types of Mouth Guards
Common types of mouth guards include: stock, boil and bite, and custom-made.
Stock mouth guards are the least expensive option. They are pre-formed and ready to wear but often do not fit very well. They can be bulky and may make breathing and talking more difficult.
Boil and bite mouth guards come in a pre-formed shape that can be altered to some degree. The mouth guards are to be boiled in water and then the athlete will bite into the warm plastic for a little bit more of a customized fit as opposed to a stock guard. It is important to carefully follow the directions for best results. Boil and bite mouth guards can be purchased in sporting goods stores.
Last but not least, are custom-made mouth guards. Custom-made mouth guards are designed and made specifically for the wearer. They are produced in the dental office where the staff will take an impression the teeth. The impression is then used to create a model which is used to construct the guard. Custom guards provide the best fit and most protection. They are the most expensive option but worth every penny. Mouth guards can even be made to fit braces. Orthodontic treatment can take years to complete. The last thing parents and athletes alike want is to knock out a tooth. A mouth guard will also prevent the brackets and wires from injuring the soft tissue of the mouth. Custom-made mouth guards are specifically recommended for athletes in braces so that the guard will not be too tight or too loose and interfere with the treatment.
Mouth Guard Care
Just like teeth need proper oral hygiene, so do mouth guards. Bacteria and other microorganisms flourish is dark, moist environments. Not only can these microorganisms make the wearer sick, they can also lead to tooth decay, gum infection, and bad breath. Mouth guards should be cleaned after each use. They can me cleaned with a gentle toothbrushing and toothpaste. After it’s been cleaned, the guard should be stored in a ventilated container.
It is recommended to visit the dentist to have mouth guards replaced after every season or every 6 months. Research shows that mouth guards less effective when they lose their thickness. This is because there is less protective material to absorb external injuries and impact.
Other Accessories to Prevent Sports-Related Injuries
Another important accessory that will help prevent sport-related injuries is a helmet. A standard helmet can help prevent the teeth from biting down too hard which can be enough to damage teeth. On the other hand, a helmet that has a face shield is even better! These helmets are the ones seen worn by professional baseball, football, and hockey players. The face cage prevents a ball or puck from a tooth-related injury or body injury.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that dental injuries can cost increasingly more than the cost of a mouth guard or helmet. Be sure to take precautionary measures to prevent dental injuries!