Anyone that participates in a contact sport is vulnerable to a dental injury. Don’t be the victim of a preventable injury: wear a mouthguard. Contact sports include such sports as Rugby, Hockey, Lacrosse, Kick Boxing, Cricket, Ice Hockey etc. In fact any sport where a player is likely to make contact with a hard object. While mouthguards are not mandatory equipment in all sports, their worth is indisputable. Dentists see many oral and facial injuries that might have been prevented by the use of a mouthguard.
Facial injuries in nearly every sport can result in damage to teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue. Mouthguards cushion blows to the face and neck. A mouthguard should be part of every athlete’s gear, no matter the sport. It’s better to play it safe than face a devastating and painful oral injury.
Even adults are not free from the dangers of mouth injuries. Dentists treat many trauma injuries in weekend athletes. Whatever your age or sport, mouthguards are an important part of sports safety and your exercise routine. Do what you can to protect your smile and preserve your health.
Many young sports players will be undergoing orthodontic treatment and wearing fixed or removable braces. They should wear a mouthguard if they participate in contact sports as a sudden impact to their face could otherwise result in the wire work of their braces lacerating the soft tissues of the inside of their lips and cheeks.
There are three types of mouthguards: custom-made, mouth-formed and ready-made.
Custom-made mouthguards are professionally designed by your dentist from a cast model of your teeth. Because they are designed to cover all back teeth and cushion the entire jaw, they can prevent concussions caused by blows to the chin. Custom guards may be slightly more expensive than commercially produced mouthpieces, but they offer the best possible fit and protection. They are more secure in the mouth and do not interfere with speech or breathing. Calling plays or formations, for instance, will not be impeded by custom guards.
Mouth-formed guards, also called “boil and bite,” should also be fitted by your dentist. This is generally done by shaping a soft pre-formed guard to the contours of the teeth and allowing it to harden. However, these devices are difficult to design for athletes who wear braces and can become brittle after prolonged use.
Ready-made, commercial mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and are made of rubber or polyvinyl. They are the least expensive but also the least effective.
Keep your mouthguard in top shape by rinsing it with water or mouthwash after each use and allowing it to air-dry. With proper care, it should last the length of a season or longer.
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