At South Charlotte Dentistry, we prioritize and care about our every patient’s smile. To do so, we have to ask about not only your daily oral hygiene routine, but also about your lifestyle. One of the top experiences that can affect our teeth is, believe it or not, sports! With the numerous physical, social and mental benefits sports activities bring to our lives, what we may not consider is the level of risk for oral injuries that sports present every time we participate or head into a big game.
Why should you wear a mouth guard?
A mouth guard is basically a protective cushion that provides some shock absorption for your teeth in the event of oral trauma. A mouth guard protects injury to the teeth, prevents cuts and bruising from external impact, and shields your teeth against tooth fractures and dislocations. A properly fitting mouth guard can also reduce concussions, pulpal injury, and even neck injury, by cushioning the mouth so that the jaws cannot violently jar together upon impact.
Studies by the American Dental Association, the American Academy for Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Academy for Sports Dentistry have shown that wearing a properly fitted mouth guard will significantly reduce oral injuries. High school and college athletes are just as likely to get a facial injury as a professional athlete, and it’s estimated that an athlete has an over 50% chance of getting an oral injury during their sports career. According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain an oral injury if they are not wearing a protective mouthpiece as they play. 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 fitting mouth guard will absolutely reduce the opportunity for injury, and lower the severity of the injury.
What sports typically wear a mouth guard?
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Mixed martial arts
This list is only a few of the many sports that should wear a mouth guard. Solitary sports with less 1:1 physical contact like skateboarding or mountain biking, where someone can take hard falls, should also wear a mouth guard. The ADA actually lists over 60 sports where mouth guards are recommended!
What are the pros to a custom mouth guard?
A custom mouth guard is created to fit and protect your teeth and bite, and provides an adequate amount of thickness and cushion to the jaw. It provides enough room between the top and bottom teeth to prevent the teeth from meeting in case of being hit by an upward motion. A mouth guard should protect the front teeth from any blow that would otherwise knock the teeth out. A custom fit mouth guard will stay in place with minimal movement, feel comfortable in the mouth while wearing it, and not prevent you from breathing, drinking, or communicating.
If you have braces, a custom mouth guard is a must! Braces automatically increase the risk of oral injury, from cheek lacerations to chipped teeth, and a proper fitting mouth guard will fit comfortably over the braces and protect the mouth, gums and lips from injury.
How much protection does a generic, store-bought mouth guard offer?
A one-size-fits all mouth guard will not give the protection your mouth needs, and may in fact put you at further risk of oral damage from poor fit. Everyone’s mouth, teeth, and bite are different, so a generic mouth guard can only offer an average fit to protect your teeth.
Store bought mouth guards can be extremely bulky and easily discharge from the athlete’s mouth, as well as compromise the athlete’s ability to breathe and communicate. For children athletes, a generic mouth guard can put harmful pressure on a child’s developing teeth and gums if it doesn’t fit correctly. While they are cheaper than a custom fit, they’re tough to recommend since they simply can’t compete with the better protection provided in a custom fit.
What’s the process for obtaining a mouth guard?
Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth, mouth, and bite to create a mouth guard specifically for you! The process only takes a few minutes, and your custom mouthpiece will be ready within a few days to two weeks. If you have braces removed, you will need a new mold and mouth guard created. Growing children will also require mouth guards to be replaced regularly. Adults will also need mouth guards changed regularly depending on use, as the mouth guard will grow weaker after time and use.
Talk to South Charlotte Dentistry about wearing a protective mouth guard.
Don’t leave oral injury to chance. Whether you or your child play sports or partake in activities that put you at risk of oral injury, you should talk to your dentist at South Charlotte Dentistry about getting a custom mouth guard before your next game. Wearing a mouth guard will give you confidence in your next game that you’re protecting yourself as best as you can from oral injuries and with a comfortable custom fit, your mouth guard will flawlessly become part of your standard athletic equipment!