July 17, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Stop Sports Injuries By Wearing Mouthguards

Dr. Jeffrey Cranska
Dr. Jeffrey Cranska's picture
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August 10, 2017

Football and soccer seasons are here, which means that sports-related oral and dental injuries are commonplace. School-age children are the most likely group to suffer injuries to their mouths and teeth.

By wearing athletic mouthguards, children can protect their teeth and the surrounding bone from breaking. Mouthguards prevent lacerations and bruising of the lips and cheeks.

A mouthguard should always be a part of your sports gear. To be effective as a protector, the mouthguard needs to fit and stay in place. Stock or boil-and-bite products purchased at sporting goods stores or online provide some degree of function although they do not protect as well as the products used by professional athletes.

Your dentist’s office is the first place to go for information and treatment options. No mouthguard will prevent 100 percent of mouth and jaw injuries.

Q: What is the difference between a boil-and-bite guard and a custom-made protective athletic mouthguard?

A: The purpose of the guard is to prevent contact between your top and bottom teeth during a violent collision. Custom mouthguards are more desirable than over-the-counter mouthguards because of better retention, controlled thickness, less bulk and the ability to adjust. The devices are made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer, vacuum-made or high heat and pressure thermoformed.

For a custom guard, an impression is taken of your mouth. The impression is poured to make a model. This model is used to vacuum-fit a rubber- or plastic-reinforced material just for you at the dental office or sent to a dental laboratory for fabrication.

The perfect guard is comfortable and does not affect speech, and is also tear-resistant, odorless, tasteless and resilient to wear. Some custom guards are not much pricier than ones that are traditionally used; the real savings is the significant amount of damage they can prevent.

Tooth damage from accidents is not only expensive to repair at the time of initial injury, but remakes will be necessary over the patient’s lifetime.

Q: What sports require mouthguards?

A: The National Federation of State High School Associations mandates use of protective mouthguards in football, field and ice hockey, and lacrosse. The American Dental Association “recommends that athletically active people of all ages use a properly fitted mouthguard in any sporting or recreational activity that may pose risk of an injury.” This suggestion applies to almost 30 sports. The regulated use in these sports may be optional, but an individual’s mouthguard usage should be mandatory.

Mouthguard Care and Replacement

·         When is the right time to replace your mouthguard? Ask your dentist. Replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear or distortion, or if it is damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.

·         Between uses, keep your mouthguard clean and dry.

·         Regularly clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water. Then rinse it thoroughly.

·         During your regular dental checkups, always bring your mouthguard for a thorough cleaning.

·         Store and transport the mouthguard in a sturdy closed container that has vents so it can dry.

·         Never leave the mouthguard in the sun.

·         Check it for signs of wear and tear to see if it needs replacing.

·         Store your mouthguard in its case and don’t leave it in plain sight. Dogs see any dental appliance as a chew toy.

The important message is to wear a well-fitted mouthguard and take proper care of it. Injury prevention is what everyone desires. Play safe and have fun.

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