If you engage in sports, you may understand that getting hurt as an athlete can be a common and unfortunate occurrence for many. According to the American Dental Association, 10-20% of all sports-related injuries are maxillofacial. Many of these injuries can be prevented or have the damage significantly reduced by wearing a protective mouthguard.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a cushioning oral appliance made of flexible material that fits snugly over your teeth to help protect against injuries to the teeth and mouth. Mouthguards also prevent the jaws from coming together fully, reducing the risk of jaw joint injuries and concussion.
Why should you wear a mouthguard while playing sports?
A mouthguard is an oral device that should be an essential piece of equipment for all athletes of any age. In the same way that we wear helmets, knee pads, protective eyewear, and other supportive gear when engaging in certain activities, mouthguards help to prevent and minimize damage to your mouth and face. They act as an absorber for an impact that can occur in sports and protect against chipped teeth, broken jaws, and damage to the soft tissues of your mouth.
Mouthguards are often recommended in both competitive and recreational sports in which collision, contact, or high impact trauma are likely to occur. We encourage patients to wear their mouthguards during practice, training, and games. If you wear braces, retainers, or other oral devices, ask your dentist about orthodontic mouthguards and what treatment options are right for you.
Types of Mouthguards
These mouthguards vary in price and comfort, yet all provide some protection. Your mouthguard should have a comfortable fit but not restrict your ability to breathe or speak clearly.
Your dentist can make you a customized mouthguard from an impression of your teeth. Though this option can be more expensive, it ensures a proper and comfortable fit.
Boil and Bite
Boil and bite mouthguards are made of medical-grade silicone and can be remolded several times if necessary. To use this type of mouthguard, the guard is heated to a boil and then after a brief cooling period, can be placed into your mouth to make an impression.
These types of mouthguards are inexpensive and bought pre-formed and ready to wear. However, they often do not fit properly.
Care and Replacement
Your dentist will tell you best how to care for your mouthguard. We recommend replacing your mouthguard every season or once it shows signs of wear, damage, or becomes loose and does not fit properly. For children and teenagers, mouthguards may need to be replaced more often as their mouths change frequently as they grow.
General care recommendations for mouthguards can include:
- Between usage, it is important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry
- Brush your mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste
- During your dental checkups, bring in your mouthguards for evaluation
- Rinse before and after each use with a mouthwash
- Store your mouthguard in a case that has vents to keep it dry and prevent bacterial growth
Dental injuries are very common in recreational and professional sports. That is why the best way to protect your smile while you play is to use a mouthguard. Damaged teeth or missing teeth do not grow back. Mouthguards can absorb the energy of an impact to reduce the severity of injury to your mouth and jaw. For more information on the importance of using a mouthguard in sports or to schedule a consultation, contact Heather J. Cadorette, DDS today.