Most parents agree that they will do almost anything to help protect their young athletes, including using bubble wrap! Usually this comment is made halfway joking but halfway wishing we could actually do this. Fortunately there are better options than just bubble wrap and we will discuss why mouthguards can play such a big role in keeping your star healthy and in the game!
Why are mouthguards important and what do they do?
Spring is in the air, the weather is warming up, and sports are now in full swing! Let’s make sure we make the most of the season and stay safe! Mouthguards are incredibly effective at protecting the athlete and have been shown to reduce injuries just as much as helmets! The American Dental Association (ADA) found that individuals are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard when playing a contact sport or rigorous physical exercise. They also found that 1 out of 10 athletes will experience head/facial injury each year. These injuries can be very costly in terms of finances as well as permanent damage to the individual.
Most people can easily appreciate the benefit that a mouthguard has for the teeth, but mouthguards can also greatly reduce the chances of having concussions. Mouthguards will help cushion a blow to the face and reduce the impact on the lips, cheeks, jaw and brain!
When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?
Short Answer: Any time you participate in sports!
Long Answer: Any time you have a chance of getting hit in the face or hitting your face on something. There are 29 sports that are recommended to wear a mouthguard, and the list is growing. No need to memorize the list though. A good rule of thumb to remember is that a mouthguard is a good idea if you wear a helmet or have a chance to get hit in the face! Below is a list of activities and sports that we would encourage you to wear a mouthgurard:
Types of Mouthguards
There are several families of mouthguards and we have different recommendations based on if you are wearing braces or not! Just remember, the best mouthguard is the one that you will actually wear because they do not protect your teeth if they are in their case!
While you are in orthodontic care and wearing braces, you need to be able to have some protection on your upper and lower teeth and your teeth still need to be able to move. Having coverage on upper and lower gives your cheeks and lips an added level of protection in case you get hit. “Stock” or non-customized mouthguards usually work best for our braces patients because they will fit over your braces and still allow your teeth to line up. If you are playing a sport, please let us know and we will give you a mouthguard to wear!
A double guard has a nice level of protection and still allows you to communicate fairly easily with your team!
A full double coverage guard offers the most protection but is a little harder to communicate. Usually best for sports where high impact in expected.
Now that you have your perfect smile it is time to make sure you protect it. Since we no longer need your teeth to move, having a boil-and-bite or a custom mouthguard will be your best option. Both of these options are a little smaller and fit the teeth better than the stock options.
Heated up and then formed around your teeth.
- Cost Effective
- Available from sporting good stores
- Moderate Protection
- Inconsistent thickness
- Harder to talk/breath in
- Stock designs
Formed around a custom mold of your teeth.
- Most comfort and best protection
- Adjustable for different sports
- Very consistent thickness
- Custom designs
- Cost and need for impression
Mouthguard care tips!
A mouthguard is a great investment and here are some tips to help get the most out of them.
- Always clean them with cool soapy water after use to prevent saliva from drying on it.
- If needed, use a retainer cleaning solution but never heat it up. This will cause it to deform.
- Don’t chew on the guard! This will cause the material to break tear and not fit.
- Always keep in a case with your name/number on it.
OUR biggest challenge!
Our biggest challenge is making sure individuals will actually wear the mouthguards and this begins with educating coaches, parents, and athletes on the need and benefit of wearing proper protection. Most people have an initial objection to wearing a mouthguard because they are hard to talk in, uncomfortable or the individual believes there is no benefit because “I will NOT get hurt!” There is also the fact that many kids don’t want to be the only one wearing one and have the negative social pressure. 41% of parents state it is harder to get kids to wear a mouthguard than to eat vegetables without complaining!
A mouthguard can be easy and “Cool” to wear! People just have to make a commitment to wearing one and make it a habit and then it becomes part of the uniform – just like helmets, shin guards and shoulder pads.
OK, but what could happen if I don’t wear one?
I hope that I have convinced you of the wonderful benefits of protecting your teeth by wearing a mouthguard but some people always want to know what will happen if they don’t wear one! Most of the injuries to the teeth are permanent and range from a small chip to complete avulsion (tooth knocked out). Below are some photos of injuries that are graphic in nature. Please only click on them if you need extra motivation to wear a mouthguard!!