If you participate in contact sports, such as rugby, hockey, lacrosse and kickboxing, among others, you are vulnerable to a dental injury. Wearing a mouthguard can prevent an otherwise avoidable injury, and their worth is indisputable. Dentists see many oral and facial injuries that may have not occurred with the use of a mouthguard.
Mouthguards cushion blows to the face and neck. Injuries in nearly every sport can result in damage to your teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue, making a mouthguard an essential part of an athlete’s kit.
Many young sports players will be undergoing orthodontic treatment and wearing fixed or removable braces. Wearing a mouthguard while participating in contact sports means sudden facial contact is cushioned, and should not result in the wirework of the braces lacerating the soft tissues inside the mouth.
- Do wear a mouthguard at all times when playing sport
- Do inform yourself about the most common oral injuries
- Do wear a mouthguard custom-fitted by your dentist, especially if you wear fixed dental appliances such as braces
- Don’t wear removable appliances (retainers, bridge, or complete or partial dentures) when playing sport
Types of Mouthguard
There are three types of mouthguard: custom-made, mouth-formed and ready-made
- These mouthguards are professionally designed from a cast model of your teeth
- They are designed to cover all back teeth and cushion the entire jaw, able to prevent concussions caused by blows to the chin
- They are slightly more expensive than other mouthguards, but offer the best fit and protection
- They are secure in your mouth
- They do not interfere with your speech or breathing
- Also called ‘boil and bite’, these mouthguards should be fitted by your dentist
- They are made by shaping a pre-formed guard to the contours of your teeth and allowing it to harden
- They are difficult to design for people who wear braces
- They can become brittle after prolonged use
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- These mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores
- They are made of rubber or polyvinyl
- They are the least expensive option but also the least effective