Mouthguards reduce the use of mouth-related injuries for athletes, particularly with the use of custom-fitted mouthguards. From hockey to water polo, or basketball to football, the use of a mouth guard reduces the prevalence of dental injuries and trauma across the board! At South Charlotte Dentistry, we know many of our patients are entering back into the school year and enrolling in fall sports.
Participation in youth and adolescent sports has exploded in the past few years. It’s estimated that around 45 million youths participate in organized sports. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports dental injuries as the most common type of injury sustained during sports participation. It’s also estimated that an athlete is 60% more likely to sustain teeth damage when not wearing a protective mouthguard!
Why should you wear a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is basically a protective cushion that provides some shock absorption for your teeth in the event of oral trauma. A mouthguard protects injury to the teeth, prevents cuts and bruising from external impact, and shields your teeth against tooth fractures and dislocations. A properly fitted mouthguard can also reduce concussions, pulpal injury, and even neck injury!
Beyond a bruised mouth or dislocated tooth, sports injuries can cause lasting damage, especially when neck, jaw, and facial injuries can prevent athletes from ever playing sports again. A properly fitted mouth guard will reduce the opportunity for injury, and lower the overall severity of the injury.
What type of mouthguards are there?
- Over-the-counter ready-made or stock mouthguards
- “Boil and bite” mouthguards
- Custom-made mouthguards (from a dentist)
These three options vary in price, comfort, and protection, but all are better options than none. The most important factor is that your mouthguard is comfortable, resilient, easily cleaned, resistant to tearing, and should not restrict speech or breathing.
At what age should a child begin to wear a mouthguard?
We recommend that a child begin to wear a mouthguard once their permanent teeth start coming into the mouth. This typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 7. It’s very important to remember that we only have one set of permanent teeth, so we need to protect them for life!
If you suffer oral trauma during sports, when should you go to the dentist?
We categorize dental injuries into three different categories. Timing is very critical when it comes to dental injuries. Do not allow an athlete to wait until the end of a game to seek treatment; dental injuries need to be treated as soon as possible, and typically getting treatment within 2 hours provides the best outcomes.
Depending on the type of injury, you should immediately treat the injury as follows:
FRACTURE: A fracture can include a root fracture, broken tooth, or chipped tooth.
Immediate Treatment: If possible, stabilize the portion of the tooth still in the mouth by biting gently on a towel to control bleeding.
Transportation to Dentist: Athlete and tooth fragments should immediately go to the dentist. The best methods to transport the tooth fragments should be in Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution, milk, saline-soaked gauze, or under the athlete’s tongue.
AVULSION: When the entire tooth, including the root, is knocked out.
Immediate Treatment: Only handle the tooth by the crown, never the root. Do not attempt to brush, scrub or sterilize the tooth. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse with water.
Transportation to Dentist: If possible, place the tooth back in the socket and instruct the athlete to gently bite down on a towel. If you’re unable to re-implant the tooth, transport the tooth with the athlete like the last method immediately.
LUXATION: The tooth is in the socket but the wrong position. An extruded tooth appears longer than the surrounding teeth, and a lateral displacement is a tooth pushed back or forward too far. An intruded tooth is if the tooth is pushed into the gums, and appears short.
Immediate Treatment: For an extruded or lateral displacement, have the athlete gently bite down into a towel, and transport immediately to a dentist.
Transportation to the dentist: For an intruded tooth, do not attempt to reposition the tooth, and transport the athlete immediately to a dentist.
Talk to South Charlotte Dentistry about wearing a protective mouthguard.
Don’t leave oral injury to chance! Dental injuries are easily preventable. Dentists and experts recommend that mouthguards are worn by athletes in sports where impact, contact, and collision are likely to occur, during all practices and competitions.
Talk to your dentist at South Charlotte Dentistry about getting a custom mouthguard for this season. A mouthguard should be no different than wearing a jersey or uniform – it is an essential part of your standard athletic equipment! Protect your smile this season by wearing a mouthguard!