A mouthguard for sports is an important consideration for athletes and parents, whether they are new to a sport, they’ve experienced a past mouth injury, or even a close call…
It’s a scene repeated over and over, year after year. Parents in athletic stadiums around the country hold their breath when bodies collide. Student athletes fall to the ground, and athletic trainers race to find out what’s hurting and what they need to do to help. It can happen on outdoor fields and indoor arenas. Outdoor tracks and community gyms. The sport may be football, basketball, karate, hockey, or any number of other activities — competitive or not. It doesn’t matter so much which sport it is. The fact is injuries happen… and that’s not really all that surprising.
But what may be surprising is the reality that athletes who are not wearing a mouthguard are 60 times more likely to have an injury that impacts their teeth. Sixty times! That’s a big chance for a mouth injury.
If something as simple as a mouthguard can do such a good job at reducing injury risk, let’s find out a little more about mouthguards, how they benefit active individuals who want to protect their dental health, and how to make the best choice of mouthguard for the athlete in your family. There are different types of mouthguards that serve different purposes, such as teeth grinding, TMJ, and athletic mouthguards. These are not intended to be interchangeable, so it is important to consult the dentist to choose the best type for your mouth. If you play sports, you will need to get a mouthguard specifically designed for sports – an athletic mouthguard.
What Are Athletic Mouthguards?
If you’ve watched sports at all, you’ve likely seen ballplayers slip a mouthguard in place before their game starts. Mouthguards are exactly what the name implies — guards worn to protect the mouth. They’re designed for the upper teeth and help protect all the teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth.
“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.”
– American Dental Association
Benefits of Athletic Mouthguards
The benefits of athletic mouthguards are many. In cushioning blows to the face, they offer protection in a number of ways:
Protect against dental injury – Because mouthguards absorb the energy from a blow, they help disperse that energy, protecting an athlete from breaking a tooth or getting one knocked out completely.
Protect soft tissue – They also guard the soft tissues of the mouth — the lips, cheek, and tongue — from bruises and cuts.
Absorb shock – While a mouthguard doesn’t necessarily prevent a concussion, it can absorb the shock from blows to the face in a way that distributes the shock more evenly, reducing the chance for serious injury.
Prevent jaw fractures – Because mouthguards absorb and disperse shock, they also reduce the risk of jaw fractures from direct impact to the head or face.
Protect orthodontic braces – Any athlete with orthodontics should know that mouthguards help keep braces intact and reduce the chance for soft tissue injury from a wire that gets knocked out of place or a bracket that comes loose from impact to the face.
Promote oral health – When children grow up protecting their teeth with an athletic mouthguard, they’re learning that oral health matters and establishing a healthy habit that can last a lifetime.
Choosing the Right Mouthguard
“The most effective mouthguard is tear resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly in your mouth without restricting your speech or breathing. A good mouthguard should be durable and easy to clean.”
– American Dental Association
When the athletes in your family are ready for mouthguards, how do you know what will fit the best and what will offer the most protection for them?
Mouthguards come in ready-to-wear versions, boil-and-bite forms, and custom-made selections:
Ready-to-wear mouthguards are the one-size-fits-all of mouth protectors. You go to the store, pick one out, give it a good wash, and start wearing it immediately. While these may be the best option for your budget, they may not be as comfortable as some of the others because they tend to be bulkier and make it harder to talk and breathe while wearing them.
Boil-and-bite guards are moldable to your mouth. When you buy a boil-and-bite guard at your local sports store, look for one that has the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. When you get home, follow the package instructions for putting the guard in boiling water and then into your mouth so it molds to your upper teeth.
Boil-and-bite guards tend to be more comfortable than ready-to-wear guards because they’re molded to your mouth. They’re not recommended for individuals with braces, however, because the process of molding is damaging to orthodontics.
Custom-made athletic mouthguards
Custom-made athletic mouthguards are custom designed. They’re the most personalized for your mouth, and that makes them the most comfortable option on the market. To get a custom-fitted mouthguard requires the help of a dental professional who’ll take impressions of your teeth first, and then mold the mouth protector for a custom fit in your mouth.
At TrueCare Dentistry, our custom-made athletic mouthguards are PlaySafe®, which is a brand that offers professional-grade mouthguards. We custom fit for patients of all ages, including those who participate in hockey, boxing, lacrosse, football, martial arts and more.
Safeguarding Dental Health with Athletic Mouthguards
Protecting the teeth of the athletes in your family should be a priority for every parent and grandparent. Athletic mouthguards are essential for safeguarding oral health and preventing sports-related dental injuries. When you invest in a well-fitting mouthguard, you:
- Minimize the risk of dental trauma
- Protect your smile
- Avoid unnecessary pain and costly dental treatments
If someone in your family is involved in sports or any physical activities, don’t hesitate to reach out to the TrueCare Dentistry team. We can provide personal recommendations and assist you in choosing the right guard to keep your teeth safe. Stay proactive and protect those precious smiles!
The dental team at TrueCare Dentistry has years of experience in preventing and treating oral sports injuries, so reach out when you need help protecting and maintaining your smile!