Every sport has specialized equipment. There are helmets, shoes, gloves, uniforms, pads, balls, bats and sticks. Not just for children, mouthguards are intended to protect your teeth and dental work if you are involved in a contact sport. The American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouthguard for everything from acrobatics, basketball, bicycling, boxing, equestrian, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, inline skating, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, softball, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. At the college level, the NCAA requires mouthguards in football, lacrosse, field hockey and ice hockey.
The American Dental Association estimates that that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone. Happily, there’s a mouth guard for every budget and every sport. Even the most costly custom mouth guards are a small price to pay compared to restorative and cosmetic dental work.
Over 90 percent of the mouthguards worn are bought at sporting goods stores. The other 10 percent are of the custom made and designed by a dentist or other health care profession such as an athletic trainer.
The most common types of sports mouth guards include:
· Ready-made or stock mouthguards found at sporting goods stores. They offer the least protection, impede speech and breathing and not recommended.
· Mouth-formed or "boil and bite" mouthguards. The most commonly used type of mouthguards. Made from thermoplastic material, they are immersed in boiling water and formed in the mouth by using finger, tongue, and biting pressure. Mouth-formed mouthguards often lack proper extensions and repeatedly do not cover all the back (posterior) teeth.
· Custom-made mouthguards made by a dentist. Dentist create either Vacuum Mouthguards and Pressure Laminated Mouthguards designed to fit the athlete’s mouth, based on their age, the types of sports they play, and other dental enhancements like braces, missing baby teeth, fixed dental work like bridges and implants or existing dental injuries.
Custom-fitted mouth protectors are made in the dentist’s or a professional laboratory. The dentist will make an impression of the teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.
Generally, mouthguards only cover theupper teeth, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), the dentist will make a mouthguard for the lower teeth too.
These mouthguards vary in price and comfort, yet all provide some protection. According to the American Dental Association, the most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.
Taking care of a mouthguard is easy if you follow these simple steps:
· Rinse your mouth guard with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use and/or clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
· Occasionally clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
· Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
· Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures -- such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight -- to minimize distorting its shape. DO NOT put the mouthguard in the dishwasher!
· Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
· Be sure to bring your mouthguard with you whenever your see your dentists. They will examine the guard for tears and other damage.
The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. notes that dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports. Athletes who have teeth knocked out or whose teeth are not properly preserved and replanted may face lifetime dental costs ranging from $10,000 - $15,000 per tooth, countless hours in the dentist's chair, and the possibility of developing other dental problems such as periodontal disease.
Don’t forget to bring your mouth guard with you to your regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist exam it for proper fit and wear. The dentists at the Southfield Family Dental Center are happy to recommend the best mouth guard for you, based on your unique needs. Call (248) 569-6304 to schedule your next appointment; we’re open six days a week and handle dental emergencies.