The fall sports season is fast approaching. Is your child ready? Well as ready as you think they might be, it is very possible that they are missing one important thing…a mouthguard. But did you know that according to an American Dental Association (ADA) online news release, “Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries with Simple Sports Safety Precautions,” athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth? Furthermore, the most vulnerable to mouth-related injuries are athletes ages 7 to 11, says another ADA online news release, “Five Health Organizations Double Down on Mouth Guards.”
If your child does not have a mouthguard for the upcoming sports season, you are not alone. The above ADA article, “Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries with Simple Sports Safety Precautions,” reports that 67% of parents with children in organized sports do not wear mouthguards. And 84% of children do not do so because they are not required to wear them. This is the case even though they are required to wear other protective materials, such as helmets and shoulder pads.
What Do Mouthguards Do?
So what makes mouthguards so important? An ADA online JADA article, “Do You Need a Mouthguard?” explains that mouthguards help to cushion the blows that could lead to broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. It adds that mouthguards may even reduce the severity and incidence of concussions. They are often used to protect the top teeth which usually protrude further, and because of that are more vulnerable to injury. That said, mouthguards can also be worn on the bottom teeth as well.
When Should Mouthguards Be Used?
The ADA news release, “Five Health Organizations Double Down on Mouth Guards,” says that collision and contact sports are high-risk sports for the mouth, though dental injury can still occur from other sports as well. The ADA online JADA article, “Protecting Teeth with Mouthguards” gives examples of sports in which mouthguards are most commonly used, such as boxing, football, hockey and lacrosse. Yet it also lists other sports such as basketball, gymnastics or skateboarding in which mouthguards can also prevent mouth and jaw injuries.
The ADA online Mouthhealthy article, “Mouthguards,” claims that mouthguards are especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. In the case of orthodontics, the article adds that a blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances, as well as cause injury to the gums and cheeks. That is why a dentist or orthodontist may suggest that a mouthguard also be worn on lower teeth when a person has braces.
Types of Mouthguards:
There are different mouthguards from which to choose, but ultimately, it comes down to which mouthguard will most effectively prevent dental injuries. In general, the article, “Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries With Simple Sports Safety Precautions,” says that an effective mouthguard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. It should cover the teeth and, depending on a patient’s bite, also the gums.
And while cost is sometimes a deciding factor as to the type of mouthguard people choose, the ADA article, “Protecting Teeth with Mouthguards,” reminds us that mouthguards are significantly less expensive than the potential thousands of dollars it might cost to treat a sports-related dental injury. The ADA article, “Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries with Simple Sports Safety Precautions,” adds that it may be one of the least expensive pieces of sports equipment you need to purchase.
The online ADA article, “ADA Encourages Wearing Mouthguards During Recreational Activities,” lists several mouthguard options from which to choose:
- Stock mouthguards – These are inexpensive and are pre-formed, so that they are ready to wear. The downside is that they do not fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite mouthguards – These mouthguards are available at many sporting goods stores, and they do offer a better fit than stock mouthguards. They first need to be softened in water, and then they are inserted so that they adapt to the shape of the mouth. If directions are not followed carefully, however, a poor fit can result.
- Custom-fitted mouthguards – These mouthguards are made by a dentist in a dental office or by a dental laboratory based on a dentist’s instructions. An impression is first taken of the teeth and a mouthguard is created using the model. These are more expensive than the other versions, but they can offer a better fit than anything else you could purchase. According to the ADA article, “Protecting Teeth with Mouthguards,” this type of mouthguard is particularly important for those who wear braces or have a protruding jaw, receding chin or cleft palate.
We at Boulevard Dental Associates take protecting your mouth very seriously. That is why we have gone as far to offer free-of-charge, professional quality mouthguards to multiple sports teams within our area. We know that a professional quality mouthguard is an athlete’s best defense against injury. Our hope is that the information that we have presented encourages you to take mouth safety just as seriously as we do.
American Dental Association. ADA Encourages Wearing Mouthguards During Recreational Activities. ADA Website. April 07, 2011. “https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2011-archive/april/ada-encourages-wearing-mouthguards-during-recreati” Accessed July 9, 2019.
American Dental Association. Do You Need a Mouthguard? JADA. July, 2001; 137: 1066. “https://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/Files/patient07” Accessed July 9, 2019.
Dental Association. Five Health Organizations Double Down on Mouth Guards. ADA Website. April 01, 2016. “https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2016-archive/march/five-health-organizations-double-down-on-mouth-guards” Accessed July 9, 2019.
American Dental Association. Mouthguards. Mouth Healthy. “https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouthguards” Accessed July 9, 2019.
American Dental Association. Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries with Simple Sports Safety Precautions. ADA website. April 01, 2013. “https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2013-archive/april/play-it-safe-prevent-facial-injuries-with-simple-s” Accessed July 9, 2019.
American Dental Association. Protecting Teeth with
Mouthguards. JADA. Dec., 2006; 137: 1772. “https://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/Files/patient69” Accessed July 9, 2019.