Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating — everything would suddenly be affected. Knowing how to prevent injuries to your mouth and face is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities. Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. We take a look at why mouthguards are necessary and why you should be using one.
When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. When participating in high-impact, low-impact and even no-impact sports, players are at risk of a variety of dental injuries: lip and cheek lacerations, chipped or broken teeth, tooth root damage, fractured jaws and even concussions. Wearing a mouth guard reduces the chance of even the most common dental injury by up to sixty times. Mouth guards are only mandatory in organized body-contact sports such as football and boxing, as well as hockey and other sports where the injury risk is inherently high, but most athletes can still benefit from the protection they offer. Players on team sports can make contact with one another, whereas individual sports like snowboarding can cause injury to the same degree by falling. Flying balls, rackets and other hard equipment can also produce serious dental injuries.
A mouth guard effectively absorbs the force of impact to the mouth area before this force reaches the teeth. Made of a resilient and forgiving material, it covers and protects the upper teeth, but offers protection to the mouth, gums and jaw as well. When an object or person strikes the face, or a player falls against a hard surface, his or her mouth guard redistributes the force of the impact, and the energy dissipates without causing significant injury.
The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-made mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard. Learn more about each option:
A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, which will help you avoid injuries to your gums and cheeks. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the right protection. Although some mouthguards only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth too. It is important that if you have a retainer or other removable appliance that they are not worn during any contact sports.
Talk to your dentist about when is the right time to replace your mouthguard, but replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear, is damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.
Between games, it’s important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry. Here are some tips for making sure your mouthguard is always ready to go:
Do you have any questions about mouthguards? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-655-5000 or request an appointment online.