Mouthguards: Why wear them?

Too often we see children, teenagers, and adults that have been hit in the head or face during a sports related activity. Many of these patients were not wearing a mouthguard.  You may be wondering what a mouthguard is. It is an appliance that protects your mouth and teeth from blows to the head and face by covering your upper teeth. It can prevent breaking a tooth, losing a tooth, cutting your lips (especially if you are wearing braces), fracturing your jaw, and concussions. There are 50 million children who participate in organized sports in the United States; about 10% will suffer an oral or facial injury because they were not wearing a mouthguard.

Why should you have your mouthguard custom made?

A custom made mouthguard will have excellent retention and fit. It’s protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, and does not interfere with speaking or breathing.  Being able to breathe during activity is very important.  A custom made mouthguard will allow you to breathe easier through your mouth which will give you a better performance.  It will also lessen the risk of jaw fractures because wearing the mouthguard will absorb the energy of the traumatic blow, even when you are hit in the chin. There are 29 sports that the American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouthguard while playing sports, and there are more than 200,000 oral injuries that are prevented by mouthguard use each year.  Athletes who are in ortho should always wear a mouthguard. It will prevent damage to the brackets and work as a barrier between the bracket and lip/cheek reducing the risk of soft tissue damage. If cared for properly the mouthguard can last over a year. It is a small investment to make to keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime.

Are over the counter mouthguards safe to use?

Over the counter mouthguards do not offer as much protection to the head and face as a custom one. There are limited sizes you can buy that often do not give you the safety you need. They may not cover the posterior teeth and frequently athletes will cut the posterior coverage out so that it will be more comfortable. The coverage and the thickness of the mouthguard is very important. Removing any of that increases the risk of injury and concussion. Over the counter mouthguards are not nearly as comfortable or protective, and they lack retention. They make proper breathing difficult because the loose fit causes you to bite down on the mouthguard while you are wearing it. Although the cost and convenience of wearing an over the counter mouthguard may be appealing, remember you may need to buy 2 or 3 a year because they do not last. Also, keep in mind, least expensive= least protective.

You should always wear a mouthguard because…

We all know that dental treatment can be costly. Imagine having your front tooth knocked out because you were not wearing a mouthguard. About 5 million American youth lose teeth each year playing sports while not wearing protection.  Even if your tooth is not knocked out at the time of impact, you should always see the dentist. We will take an x-ray of the tooth and root to make sure that there is no root damage. If there is no evidence of trauma at that time we will closely watch that tooth for the remainder of your life, yes- life. The tooth may die weeks or even years after a traumatic blow. It will start to turn grey or develop an abscess which will cause you to need a root canal and crown or an extraction and implant. Athletes are 60% more likely to suffer damage to the mouth when not wearing a mouthguard. The price of not wearing a custom made mouthguard compared to the price of the mouthguard is incomparable; the cost of replacing a tooth can range from $5,000-$8,000 per tooth and often does not last a life time. A 12 year old may need it replaced 2-3 more times during his or her lifetime, costing $15,000-$24,000 per tooth and may not be covered by insurance.

Here at Midway Family & Cosmetic Dentistry we recommend that
you always wearing a mouthguard while playing organized sports or playing basketball in your driveway. It is a very easy process to make a mouthguard for you. It only takes 2 appointments. Call us today to make an appointment for your custom made mouthguard! Your smile is worth the investment!





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