Helmets, knee pads, shin guards…if you’re an avid athlete or the parent of one, you know the importance of proper protective gear. But did you know that up to 40 percent of all sports injuries involve the face? Protect your smile and your mouth, or that of your child, with a comfortable, custom-molded mouthguard to dramatically reduce the risk of sports-related oral injury.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a comfortable piece of athletic gear that fits over your teeth and can help protect your smile as well as your lips, tongue, face, and jaw. New research indicates that mouthguards can even reduce the severity of concussions. While football players would obviously benefit from mouthguards, others, like baseball players, cyclists, weightlifters, and gymnasts, made the ADA’s list of athletes who need mouthguards. This may sound excessive, but studies show that nearly 40 percent of all dental injuries are sports related. Because the face and the smile are an important part of a person’s image, self-confidence, and sometimes success, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before facemasks and mouthguards were required in football, half of all players’ injuries occurred in the mouth. During the playing season, players had a one in ten chance of mouth injury. Once high schools and colleges began requiring face masks and mouthguards, the number of injuries reported dropped by 200,000 per year. Naturally, dentists and the ADA recommend mouthguards for adults and children in any recreational activity that poses the risk of injury to your mouth.
Types of Mouthguards
Ready-Made Mouthguards Bought at a Store
You may have seen ready-made mouthguards in a department or sporting goods store. These generic mouthguards are inexpensive and readily available. Unfortunately, because they are not custom-fitted, they may seem bulky and uncomfortable in your mouth. Ready-made mouthguards are secured by closed jaws which means, when an athlete wears a ready-made mouthguard, speaking and breathing may be difficult.
Mouth-Formed Mouthguards Bought at a Store
If you’re looking for something that is more custom fit to your mouth, you might consider mouth-formed mouthguards. Acrylic, shell liner mouthguards provide a comfortable and secure fit over your natural teeth. Unfortunately, many users report that this mouthguard can have an unpleasant odor or taste. It can also harden over time and lose its flexibility. Another type of mouth-formed mouthguard, the thermoplastic style, can be customized by heating it in water, then biting it. It will take on the shape of your bite. While these maintain their flexibility, they can feel bulky.
Custom-Made Mouthguards Made by Dr. Fisher and Dr. Zitterich
Custom-made mouthguards made just for you are the very best solution. After taking accurate impressions of your teeth, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Zitterich send these to our lab where your mouthguard is made to fit you and your teeth exactly. These offer the most comfort and the most protection. Special mouthguards or mouth protectors are also sometimes recommended for patients with braces, removable bridges or dentures, a protruding jaw, or a cleft palate. If you think you or your child may need a mouthguard, ask Dr. Fisher and Dr. Zitterich what type would be best for your specific situation.
Always wear your mouthguard during practice and games. Never chew on it because you may damage or weaken the material and decrease its effectiveness. Holes, tears, and damage to the mouthguard may irritate your gums or soft tissue. If you notice damage, replace your mouthguard immediately. Before and after each use, check your mouthguard for damage and rinse it with cold water or mouthwash. You should regularly clean your guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste or you can soak it in any mouthwash (like Scope or Listerine). Be sure to rinse it well and store it in its protective case. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight or high temperatures as these could cause it to warp or lose its shape. Most importantly, you should schedule regular dental check-ups, including one right before the playing season starts. When you see your dentist, bring your mouthguard and discuss any problems or concerns you may have. ADA & ASD Advice The American Dental Association and the Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend mouthguards for athletes who participate in:
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