Every year thousands of athletes sustain traumatic dental and head injuries while playing their favourite sports. From hockey to handball, these injuries do not discriminate. The upside is that most of these injuries can be avoided with the use of a well-fitted mouthpiece while active in the sport.
No matter your age, your gender, your league or the level of contact sport you might be playing, you should always, always be wearing a mouthguard while participating. Absolutely any athlete can be at risk of a dental injury, and most of these types of injuries can be prevented with the use of a mouthguard.
Neglecting to wear a mouthguard while playing a contact sport could land you a trip to the dentist – or worse – it could cost you a trip to the emergency room!
Sports-related dental injuries send more than 600,000 people to the emergency room every year! And that’s not even the worst case scenario. Without the use of a mouthguard you could chip or break teeth, fracture crowns or bridgework, risk lip and cheek injuries, cause root damage to the teeth or fracture jaws. But there’s more; mouthguards protect against jaw fractures and concussions by absorbing the energy of a traumatic blow to the chin. The importance of mouthguards in sports cannot be overstated.
At present, mouthguards are mandatory for most contact sports. Children who play hockey, football and rugby are often required to wear a mouthguard but the truth of the matter is, a mouthguard should be worn during any sport where a dental injury could occur.
Sports For Which You May Need a Mouthguard:
- Extreme sports
- Field events
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Inline skating
- Martial arts
- Water polo
If you participate in any of the activities on the list above, it is strongly recommended that you wear a properly fitted mouthguard. Fortunately, you don’t need to stress about a mouthguard distracting you from your sport as bulky mouthguards are no longer the only option. Due to the popularity of contact sports, mouthguards now come in all different shapes, sizes and colours and can be customized to suit your preferences.
Choosing a Mouthguard:
There are three types of mouthguards to choose from:
- Custom-Made: These types of mouthguards are made by your dentist. They are more expensive than other forms of mouthguards as they are designed individually for comfort and fit. For a custom-made mouthguard, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth then use it as a mold for your guard.
- Boil and Bite: These mouthguards can be bought at any sporting goods store and even at some drugstores. These guards must be softened in boiled water then inserted into your mouth to allow the guard to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Boil and bite guards can cost anywhere from $10 – $50.
- Stock: These mouthguards are the most inexpensive as they typically cost less than $15 and are available at most drugstores and sporting goods stores. These sports guards come pre-formed and ready to wear. Unfortunately they don’t fit very well and many find them to be so bulky that they make breathing difficult. Mostly due to the fact that it can’t be customized for its wearer, the level of protection that a stock appliance provides is typically the lowest of all the types of sports mouthguards.
But with all these options, how can you know which one is best?
The Doctor’s Recommendation:
The most effective mouthguards are resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. Ideally, your mouthguard should fit properly, be durable and easy to clean, and not restrict your speech or breathing.
At Century Stone Dental, we recommend a custom-made mouthguard. Though custom-made mouthguards don’t run cheap, the benefits of protecting your child far outweigh the costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is more likely to occur with a store bought guard.
Studies have shown that when compared to over -the-counter versions, a custom-made mouthguard is essential to a player’s safety. According to a 2014 study from May/June issue of General Dentistry, high school football players wearing store-bought mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injures (MTBI)/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted mouthguards.
Ultimately, wearing a mouthguard is a small price to pay to prevent a lifetime of dental treatment.