Sports season is upon us! On any flat surfaces, in 5-a-side social leagues, or in the Buderim FC, players are donning their kits and sliding on their boots.
Everyone knows what goes into a sporting kit, depending on the sport being played. But when you think about sporting kit, do you think about a mouth guard? At Comfort Dental Centre we hope all our patients enjoy their sports, but would also like to remind them of the need for dental safety while playing.
Why Should I Care About Mouth Guards
Many people think about mouth guards with respect to violent sports like martial arts or boxing. But the fact is that dentists recommend mouth guards for almost all sports. In a handout, “Protecting Teeth with Mouthguards,” the ADA notes “an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard” (Journal of the American Dental Association, December 2006, Vol. 137:12, p. 1772).
Let’s look at mouth guards a little more closely.
How Are Mouth Guards Made?
All mouth guards share certain characteristics:
- Made of a strong but highly flexible material
- Made of highly durable material
- Formed to fit around your teeth to protect them and soft spots in your mouth
- Designed to give some protection to the jaw and neck
The ideal mouth guard is resilient, tear-resistant, and comfortable. It should fit properly, not move, be durable, easy to clean, and not restrict any speech or biting. It should also be tasteless and odourless, so it is not distracting while in place
But although all mouth guards share some characteristics, there are also some important differences.
The Three Types of Mouth Guards
There are three types of mouth guards:
- Off the Shelf. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult. These guards offer the lowest level of protection.
- Boil and bite. These can be purchased at sporting goods stores and drugstores. They normally offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. Boil-and-bites are softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adjust to the shape of your mouth.
- Custom-fitted. These are made by your dentist for you, personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, they usually offer the best fit. Your Comfort Dental Centre dentist takes a mould of your teeth, and then has a skilled technician create a mouth guard that fits perfectly and offers the highest level of protection.
Naturally, the best mouth guard for your child’s safety is one that has been custom-made for their mouth by a dentist.
Young Athletes and Dental Protection
The mouth of a young athlete experiences growth spurts. Consequently, a mouth guard that was fine last year may not be fine this year. A dentist should take a look at a child or adolescent’s mouth before any type of mouth guard is purchased, or any sport is played. A dentist also can help recommend or customise a mouth guard based on the particular sport a young athlete plays.
Protection Provided by Mouth Guards
Mouth guards offer protection from:
Oral Injury. This includes injury to soft tissues and teeth. A mouth guard that exactly fits the structure of an athlete’s mouth can protect the soft tissues and teeth when impact occurs. The mouth guard absorbs impact and spreads it to the rest of the mouth, while also covering the edges of the teeth minimizing or eliminating damage.
Jaw Joint (TMJ) Trauma. A good mouth guard, when properly worn, protects against trauma — fractures and displacement — to the jaw joint. It does so by cushioning and reducing the amount of shock to the jaw joint as the upper and lower jaw collide.
Jaw Fractures. Similarly, mouth guards protect the jaw from fractures and dislocations by reducing shock upon impact.
Assorted Injuries. These include concussions, cerebral hemorrhage, and neck injuries
Mouth guards cannot protect against all injuries. But they do significantly decrease the likelihood of injury. Poorly fitting mouth guards, on the other hand can lead to injuries. This is why it is important to visit Comfort Dental Centre in Buderim to get a custom-fitted mouth guard.
If you, or your child, play a sport, make an investment in a high-quality mouth guard. Custom-made mouth guards from your Buderim dentist are important protection for anyone who’s into sports or who has a problem with teeth grinding (bruxism).