Helmets, shin guards, knee pads are a big part of an athlete’s world. Whether you are the athlete or the parent of one, you recognize the importance of protective year. But did you know that nearly half of all sports injuries involve the face?
At Dublin Dental Center, our experience with Colorado Springs sports dentistry is an important part of our preventative approach. Even if your sport isn’t customarily associated with mouth guards, it is worth considering one anyway. A recent study indicated that in football, an intense contact sport where mouth guards are worn, only .07 percent of injuries were orofacial. However in basketball, where mouth guards are not typically worn, 34 percent of injuries were orofacial. These include everything from simple contusions and lacerations to fractured jaws and tooth avulsions.
Once Colorado Springs area high schools and colleges began requiring facemasks and mouth guards, the number of injuries reported dropped by 200,000 per year. Naturally, dentists and the ADA recommend mouth guards for adults and children in any recreational activity that poses the risk of injury to your mouth.
Why invest in Colorado Springs sports dentistry & custom mouth guards?
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained while playing sports. The cost of properly treating dental avulsions where teeth were not properly preserved and replanted could exceed $10,000 per tooth, not to mention the hours spent in a dentist’s chair and other potential dental problems down the road.
The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone. A mouth guard is a comfortable piece of athletic gear that fits over your teeth and can help protect your smile as well as your lips, tongue, face, and jaw. New research indicates that mouth guards can even reduce the severity of concussions.
A properly fitted mouth guard should be protective, resilient, comfortable, odorless, tasteless, tear resistant, not bulky, and cause minimal interference to speaking and breathing. But one of the most important criteria is it should have excellent retention and sufficient thickness in the most critical areas. Without all of these characteristics, a mouth guard might not help much. Unfortunately, many athletes never look beyond the “over the counter” options available at sporting goods stores. Sports dentistry experts do not recommend these mouth guards for any age. It is always best to wear a custom-made mouth guard that is professionally manufactured and dentist-prescribed.
Ready-Made Mouth Guards
You may have seen ready-made mouth guards in a department or sporting goods store. These generic mouth guards are inexpensive and readily available. Because they are not custom-fitted, store-bought mouth guards may seem bulky and uncomfortable in your mouth. Also, these mouth guards are secured by closed jaws, which means speaking and breathing might be difficult.
Mouth-Formed Mouth Guards
If you want a more customized fit, acrylic, shell-liner mouth guards provide a comfortable and secure fit over your natural teeth. Unfortunately, many users report that this mouth guard can have an unpleasant odor or taste. It can also harden over time and lose its flexibility. Another type of mouth-formed mouth guard is the thermoplastic style, which can be customized by heating it in water, then biting it. It will take on the shape of your bite. While these will maintain their flexibility, they can also feel bulky.
Custom-Made Mouth Guards
Custom-made mouth guards are by far the best solution. They are comfortable, practical, and protective. A dentist or lab technician creates this custom-made mouth guard after taking impressions of your teeth. Before you purchase any mouth guard, consult with Colorado Springs sport dentistry expert Dr. Tara Pool. Special mouth guards or mouth protectors are recommended for patients with braces, removable bridges or dentures, a protruding jaw, or a cleft palate.
Mouth Guard Care
Always wear a mouth guard during practice and games, but resist the urge to chew on it, as this will weaken the material and decrease its effectiveness. Holes, tears, and damage to the mouth guard may irritate your gums or soft tissue. If you notice damage, replace your mouth guard immediately. Before and after each use, check your mouth guard for damage and rinse it with cold water or mouthwash. You should regularly clean your guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste, or in a solution of soapy water. Be sure to rinse it well and store it in a firm, perforated case. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or high temperatures.
Which sports should require a mouth guard?
The American Dental Association and the Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend mouth guards for athletes who participate in the following sports: Acrobatics, Field Hockey, Racquetball, Squash, Bandi, Football, Rugby, Surfing, Baseball, Gymnastics, Shot Put, Volleyball, Basketball, Handball, Skateboarding, Water Polo, Bicycling, Ice Hockey, Skiing, Weightlifting, Boxing, Inline Skating, Skydiving, Wrestling, Equestrian Events, Lacrosse, Soccer, Field Events, Martial Arts and Softball