Sports injuries and concussions are at the forefront of youth and professional sport alike. Despite modern dentistry making great strides in fixing damaged teeth, the need for mouth guards goes beyond mouth injuries. Whenever possible, it’s better to prevent yourself from having to go through the process of “fixing” injuries. Appropriate use of mouth guards is a crucial part of doing just that!
Recreational sports could be putting you at risk
Anyone who plays recreational contact sports should be wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard. Sports that are at highest risk of leading to dental injury include hockey, soccer, rugby, wrestling, football, boxing, basketball, martial arts, and lacrosse. However, athletes who play any non-contact sport where there’s a chance of their mouth colliding with a hard object (ex. during a fall) can benefit from wearing a mouth guard too: gymnastics, mountain biking, skateboarding, skiing, baseball, and racket ball are just a few examples.
Mouth guards and kids
Because kids have less experience in avoiding getting hurt, they are at particularly high risk of dental injuries from sports. There’s no reason to risk letting them suffer an injury with effects that will last a lifetime when a simple mouth guard can prevent it.
Common dental injuries that mouth guards help to prevent
When a tooth collides with a hard object (ex. your opponent’s elbow during a wrestling match, or the puck during a hockey game), there are several types of injury that can occur. Here are some examples: the tooth could crack, the root might fracture and lead to infection and possible tooth loss, or the tooth could be forced more deeply into the gum and jawbone (which can lead to destruction of the tooth’s pulp and other issues).
Concussion prevention in contact sports
Usually people only think about the ways in which mouth guards can protect their teeth. But one of the most interesting benefits of wearing one involves lowering the risk of concussion in those who play contact sports. While modern science isn’t 100% certain of the exact mechanism by which they provide protection, it’s thought that it has something to do with the ability of the mouth guard to absorb shock, minimize excessive movement from a bad hit to the jaw, and ability to increase the stability of the head and neck.
Have questions about how to properly protect you or your child from sports injuries and the benefits of using a mouth guard? Ask our dentists at Reflections Dental Oakville!
A study published in the Academy of General Dentistry showed that high school students who played football were less likely to get a concussion if they wore custom fit mouth guards that were properly fitted to their unique requirements. An important point to note is that generic drugstore mouth guards did not protect as well as the custom ones prepared by a dentist. Part of the reason for this might be that the average custom mouth guard is thicker than over-the-counter drugstore ones, which means they can offer better protection.
Custom versus drugstore mouth guards
Aside from the benefits in concussion prevention, custom mouth guards are more comfortable to wear and can last longer. Some people find that generic mouth guards make breathing and talking difficult — custom ones tend to have a much improved fit and are able to better avoid those issues.
Don’t put off getting fitted for a custom mouth guard
If you want your teeth (or those of your children) to last a lifetime, taking all reasonable precautions to avoid a dental emergency and protect them is a must. When you consider the pain that comes with a badly damaged tooth, and the cost of repairing it, a custom mouth guard is a winning choice both physically and financially. Contact your dentist today to find out more about how a custom mouth guard can benefit you, along with what’s involved with getting one made.