Save Your Smile with a Mouthguard
Good protection for your joints, knees, and elbows will not help you if you get hit in the face. With a strong blow to the face, your smile could be ruined forever or worse; you could suffer a concussion. Often overlooked, mouthguards or mouth protectors can prevent serious injuries during physical activities. Mouthguards have been made mandatory for certain high-contact sports like football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. Mouthguards are not officially required for sports considered lower contact like baseball, basketball, soccer, or gymnastics. Basketball players, however, are actually 15 times more likely to experience a facial injury than high-impact football players. If you play any sport without a mouthguard, you are 60 times more likely to suffer an orofacial injury.
How Mouthguards Work
Mouthguards typically fit around the top row of teeth, and provide a barrier between teeth or orthodontic appliances and soft tissue like cheeks, lips, and the tongue. This barrier helps to prevent serious soft tissue injuries during sports as well as broken teeth or injuries to the face and jaw. The mouthguard also works as a shock absorber, preventing concussions by distributing and dissipating the force on impact. If you have braces or other fixed orthodontia on the lower teeth, your dentist might recommend a mouthguard to protect the lower jaw as well.
Types of Mouthguards
There are three types of mouthguards to choose from, depending on your comfort level and the amount you are willing to invest:
Stock: A stock mouthguard is the least expensive option. These guards are pre-formed and usually quite bulky. They can often be uncomfortable and hinder breathing and talking.
Boil and Bite: Boil and bite mouthguards can be purchased at most drug stores and sporting goods stores. These guards conform to the shape of the mouth and teeth by first being softened in boiling water and then bitten down on.
Custom Fitted: The most expensive option, custom fitted mouthguards provide the most comfortable fit. Made by your dentist, these guards are molded to fit the unique shape of your mouth and bite. Custom fitted guards provide the best option for those with braces or other orthodontia in place.
Whether you choose to purchase an inexpensive option or to invest in a custom fitted mouth protector, be sure to select a mouthguard you feel is comfortable – otherwise, you will likely “forget” to wear it.
Mouth Healthy. “Mouthguards.” American Dental Association, 2013.
American Dental Association. “Statement on Athletic Mouthguards.” 2009.
Dentistry Today. “ADA Encourages Wearing Mouthguards During Recreational Activities.” April 2012.
Dentistry Today. “Children Need to Wear Protective Mouth Gear While Playing Sports.” July 2011.
Athletes of all ages, skill levels, and types should wear protective mouthguards to prevent injuries. Your dentist can assist you in choosing the right mouth guard for your activities and specific dental needs. If you have any fixed orthodontic appliances, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss which mouthguard option is the best for you.