Each year, sporting activities are to blame for tooth loss in millions of people. A recent study estimates that one out of every four people suffer from an oral injury in their lifetime. While many of those injuries come from higher contact sports such as football and boxing, a large percentage of tooth knockouts are from weekend hobby sports such as bike riding, baseball, basketball, and soccer. Athletes are 60% more likely to sustain tooth damage when not wearing a sports mouthguard, and it’s been estimated that properly fitted sports mouthguards prevent thousands of injuries yearly. Don’t take chances! Here’s everything you need to know.
Why should you wear a sports mouthguard?
Sports mouthguards are the best protection to keep your teeth for a lifetime. Not only do they save teeth, but they also prevent serious injuries like broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhages, and neck injuries. They may also reduce the severity of concussions. And because they put your lower jawbone in a forward, downward position, they create a separation between the top of the jawbone and the lower part of the brain. Thirdly, if you have braces, sports mouthguards are effective in moving the soft tissue in the oral cavity away from your teeth, preventing the tearing of lips and cheeks.
As a dentist in Battle Creek, we often get asked if playing a sport automatically means you should wear a sports mouthguard. The answer is absolutely – especially if you play a contact sport or other physical activities where contact with another person or the ground can occur. For example, sports mouthguards offer perfect protection for basketball, softball, football, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, inline skating, martial arts, skateboarding, and bicycling.
What are the different types of sports mouthguards?
- Stock sports mouthguards. This is the most generic type of sports mouthguards and offers little protection because there are limits to how it fits in your mouth.
- Mouth-for med sports mouthguards. There are two different types: the first consists of an acrylic base that is poured into trays where it forms a lining and will set when placed in your mouth. The second is thermoplastic (also known as “boil-and-bite”), where the mouthguard is softened in hot water and then molded to your teeth with your fingers, tongue, and biting pressure. It’s important to note that many people don’t know how to fit these properly and end up with poorly fitted mouth protection.
- Custom-made sports mouthguards from Battle Creek Family Dentistry.We will custom make a mold to fit your teeth and bite. This offers the best protection because it’s designed to specifically fit your mouth. This proper fit ensures that your mouthguard stays in place and doesn’t dislodge and become a choking risk.
While sports mouthguards keep your teeth safe, there is a potential danger that comes with wearing a sports mouthguard. The bacteria that forms when using it (if not cleaned properly) can cause staph or strep throat. And simply running or soaking your sports mouthguard in hot water isn’t enough to clean it. In fact, if the water is too hot, it may melt or disfigure the sports mouthguard from its original shape. The American Dental Association recommends brushing it with your toothbrush and toothpaste and rinsing it thorough with water.
Make sure to store your mouthguard in a ventilated and protective case to keep it dry and prevent the growth of bacteria. The case itself should also be cleaned from time to time.
When should you replace your sports mouthguard?
The lifespan of a sports mouthguard depends on the material it is made of and the strength of your jaw. However, you should replace it when you notice excessive wear, or if it is cracked, damaged, or deformed. It’s also a good practice to bring it along to your dental visit so we can inspect it for wear and defects that may warrant replacement.
Recap! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular recreational activities during which you should wear a custom-fitted mouthguard, a device that will protect you well and that doesn’t limit your ability to breathe deeply when exerting yourself.
- Bicycling – If you’re new to a bike, road biking, trail riding, dirt biking, trick biking, BMX…
- Water polo – Does this one surprise you? Watch those elbows!
- Skateboarding – The more tricks, the more falls… Some of them are chin first. Mouthguards not only protect teeth, but they lessen cuts due to bites to the tongue and cheeks.
- Football – We all know or can imagine the physical toll contact football has on our bodies. Even touch football has the potential to be a bit rough. Stay protected!
- Rugby – Do you play this? Call us right away! All joking aside, let’s make sure that while playing this “no equipment” game, you at least are suited up with a mouthguard so that your victory is even sweeter!
- Basketball – Yes! An ADA study identified basketball as the #1 sport for tooth injuries with up to 10% of male players suffering a mouth/tooth injury each season from things like a rogue elbow or fall to the ground. Never lower a net or introduce a platform to “slam dunk” from as teeth can get caught in the net.
- Hockey – More and more associations are making mouthguards mandatory in addition to face cages.
- Boxing – Mouthguards were introduced in boxing in 1927 so we are all likely used to the idea of them being used in this sport.
- Squash – Watch those elbows, shoulders, rackets, and balls. Playing on a small enclosed court raises the odds of a collision and mouth injury.
- And any other sport where you can imagine contact even if it’s not a “contact sport.”
Please don’t take chances with your oral protection! A professionally fitted sports mouthguard is an essential part of your sporting equipment, and we’d be happy to ensure you get the best. Call us at 269-841-5049 today to book a consultation!