When we think about the thrill and excitement of sports, it’s easy to overlook the inherent risks. Contact sports, like football, hockey, and boxing, often come with the risk of oral injury. However, even non-contact sports, such as gymnastics or cycling, can lead to accidents affecting the mouth.
Research suggests that nearly 40% of all dental injuries occur while playing sports. It’s not just adult athletes at risk; children are also vulnerable, with playground accidents contributing significantly to dental injuries.
The Role of Mouthguards in Sports Safety
Now, the question arises, how can we prevent these injuries? The answer lies in a simple yet effective piece of equipment – the mouthguard. A mouthguard, also known as a mouth protector, helps cushion a blow to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face, or jaw.
In essence, they absorb the energy from an impact, dispersing it across a larger area and thus minimizing the damage. Using a mouthguard could be the difference between a minor injury and a major dental operation.
Selecting the Right Mouthguard
There’s a common misconception that mouthguards are ‘one size fits all‘. That’s not entirely true. There are different types of mouthguards, each designed to meet unique needs and preferences. They come in three varieties: stock mouth protectors, boil and bite mouth protectors, and custom-fitted mouth protectors.
Stock mouth protectors are preformed and ready to wear, but they often don’t fit well and can be uncomfortable. Boil and bite mouth protectors are a bit more adaptable and offer a better fit. The best, however, are custom-fitted mouth protectors. These are designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions.
How to Care for Your Mouthguard
Once you’ve chosen the right mouthguard, you need to take care of it properly. Regularly clean your mouthguard with cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. Store it in a sturdy container that has vents to allow air circulation and prevent damage.
Remember to bring your mouthguard to your regular dental check-up, so your dentist can examine it for wear and tear. If it’s damaged or doesn’t fit well, you’ll need to replace it.
The Role of Mouthguards in Pediatric Sports
Children are at a particular risk of oral injuries in sports. Mouthguards should be considered essential safety gear for kids participating in any sports activity. Even for low-contact sports or recreational activities like rollerblading or skateboarding, a mouthguard can prevent painful and costly dental injuries.
Additionally, children’s mouths and teeth change rapidly as they grow. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly check the mouthguard’s fit and replace it as necessary to ensure ongoing protection.
Dental Professionals’ Viewpoint
As dental professionals, we understand that your oral health isn’t just about how your smile looks, but also about how it functions. The importance of mouthguards in sports and athletics cannot be overstated.
We strongly recommend using a mouthguard for any sport that carries a risk of a fall or head contact with other players or equipment. This is a simple yet highly effective measure that can save a lot of pain, time, and money in the long run.
Mouthguards and Braces
A common question we get is, “Can you wear a mouthguard if you have braces?” The answer is yes. In fact, it’s even more critical. An injury to the face can damage the braces, and the braces can also cause additional damage to the mouth. There are special mouthguards designed for braces that protect both the mouth and the orthodontic appliances.
Mouthguards: An Investment in Your Safety
While a custom-fitted mouthguard may cost more upfront, consider it an investment in your safety. The cost of treating a dental injury can easily run into the thousands, not to mention the pain and inconvenience of the treatment.
Using a mouthguard is a proactive step in preventing dental injuries and ensuring you can continue to enjoy your sports activities with peace of mind.
Don’t let a dental injury sideline you or your child from enjoying sports. Contact Behner Dental today to learn more about the benefits of mouthguards and how we can help protect your smile. Book an appointment now and let’s keep that winning smile intact.