There are many types of sports that involve contact and impact that affects athletes differently. These impacts can sometimes cause harm to an athlete’s health as well as to parts of their bodies. One of the ways that athletes can protect their teeth is by using a sports mouth guard. The main purpose of sports mouthguards is to protect individuals from damaging their teeth and other soft tissue areas of the mouth. Mouthguards are essential for men and women that play contact sports such as soccer, football, rugby, and boxing. Basketball is actually the highest percentage of tooth trauma. Dental professionals also recommend wearing a mouthguard if you compete in extreme sports like skateboarding and mountain biking.
What Do Sports Mouthguards Do?
How Do They Protect An Athlete’s Mouth?
Sports mouthguards are carefully designed to cover the athlete’s upper teeth during their sport to help prevent dental injuries. A properly fitted mouthguard prevents teeth from being broken which can happen as a result of a hard impact on the mouth area. Mouth protectors also help to prevent any cuts that could occur along the inside of the mouth as well as to the lips. Some athletes wear a mouthguard for their bottom teeth as well, however, this is usually only for instances where the athlete has fixed dental appliances or wears braces.
Are there Different Types of Mouthguards?
There are three main types of sports mouthguards that athletes are able to choose. It is best to choose a mouthguard that best suits your needs for oral protection. Mouthguard fitting/molding must be done correctly to ensure there is no restriction of speech and/or breathing. A good mouthguard is resilient to any impact that may occur while still being comfortable for the athlete, so it does not cause irritation.
Custom Made Mouthguards
Custom-made mouthguards are made and designed specifically for each athlete. A custom-made mouthguard can be made by a dentist or in a dental laboratory. The process starts by taking an impression of the athlete’s teeth. They will then build the mouthguard using the model that was taken. These types of sports mouthguards are the most comfortable as they are custom fitted for the athlete. Custom-made mouthguards also provide the best protection for athletes. However, custom-made mouthguards do come at a cost due to their one-of-a-kind design.
Self-Made Boil And Bite Mouthguards
With these self-made boil and bite mouthguards, the athlete will attempt to get an accurate fitting for their teeth. The mouthguard will come in a premade shape that the athlete can alter. The material in the mouthguard is comprised of plastic, which when boiled in water can be manipulated into the desired shape.
To properly fit this type of mouthguard, athletes will boil the mouthguard and bite into it to create a mold of their teeth. Once the mouthguard cools down, it will stay in the shape of the athletes’ teeth. Boil and bite mouthguards are easily accessible in most sporting goods stores and a lot less costly than custom-made mouthguards.
Stock mouthguards are not the most popular option for athletes. A stock mouth guard does not always fit very well and is also known to be quite bulky. It is also not the best for athletes when it comes to talking and breathing. Stock mouthguards are pre-made and ready to wear for athletes at a low cost. This type of mouthguard can be found in most sports stores.
How Long Can You Use The Same Mouthguard?
Finding the right mouthguard is important. Athletes need the best protection while still being comfortable enough to play their sport effectively. It is recommended that a new mouthguard should be used every season because they can wear down over time. Also, younger athletes continue to grow, therefore, the mouthguard will need to be replaced to match their growth.
When a mouthguard wears down, it increases the chances of oral damage occurring in the athlete’s mouth. If athletes compete in multiple sports, they should have a mouthguard for each one to be safe.
- Listen to Dr. Christina Pruitt explain more on this podcast: Keeping Your Childs Teeth Healthy – Feeding the Family with Kristin Saxena
“If anyone’s had a mouthguard that comes out of the package and its the boil and bite mouthguard, they’re not comfortable. Kids don’t want to wear them. I mean, if you’re a 7th grade boy, maybe compliance is an issue. And so it’s like, well, let’s give these kids something that we at least have a chance of them wearing. And also, you look at professional athletes, too. Every professional football player has a custom mouthguard. They stick them in their helmets between plays. And of course, being a nerd about it, I’m like ‘oh yeah, that’s custom.’ So I just felt like that would be something he would actually wear.
“And if we can prevent even one tooth injury, that’s a big deal. These kids will have these teeth for the rest of their life. I can’t tell you how many patients I have that they say ‘oh, yeah, you know what? When I was a kid, I knocked this tooth out or I chipped this or did that.’ These injuries stay with them their entire life and we see damage and issues and self-confidence problems, and all kinds of things. Not to mention the teeth are really in kind of a fragile time period because if you injure them at a young age sometimes they don’t grow the right way or heal the right way. There’s just a lot of implications. So I’m glad he’s wearing it.”
All Smiles Family Dentistry in Omaha, NE
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