Dental injuries are most common in collision or contact sports and recreational activities. Participants of all ages, genders and skill levels are at risk of taking blows to the mouth, resulting in damage to teeth, gums and jaws when participating in an organized league or an unorganized pickup game in the park. Currently, the NCAA requires the use of mouthguards only for ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football. However, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouthguard for several other sports and activities. Studies have shown that mouthguards offer significant protection against sports-related injuries to the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth, and some studies suggest that they may even aid in preventing concussions.
Basically, a mouthguard is a flexible custom-fitted device that you wear over your teeth during recreational activities to keep them safe. A mouthguard that fits well is especially important if you wear braces or have bridgework, and although most mouthguards only cover the top teeth, if you have special needs like these, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard that covers both the top and bottom teeth. As any teenager with braces who’s been hit in the mouth can tell you, getting hit in the mouth can also cause the wires or brackets to cut or pierce the inside of the cheeks and the mouthguard act as a barrier between the braces and the cheeks to keep the inside of the mouth safe.
When looking into the different types of mouthguards, keep in mind that the ideal mouthguard allows the wearer to speak and breathe easily during the game. It’s also well-formed enough to stay firmly in place and is durable enough to last for a while. While there are several types available at department stores and sporting goods stores, the best mouthguards are custom-fitted to the wearer and can only be found at your dentist’s office.
If you or your child is getting involved in an organized league of contact sports, or you just want to make sure your teeth are well-protected, talk to your dentist about the best options available to you.