The Benefits of Custom-Made Mouthguards For Athletes
Most people wouldn’t imagine playing (or letting someone they love play) a high contact sport without full head gear including a helmet and a mouthguard. From little league to the pros, safety is top priority for those hitting the field. But what about those athletes that play less intense sports? I am talking about the gymnasts, skateboarders and volleyball players who each have an equal chance to have an injury to their mouth as someone who plays football.
Mouthguards protect against injury to the teeth and also against injury to the jaw. The shape of each person’s mouth and teeth are different, so it makes since that a one-size-fits-all approach to a mouthguard is not going to give you the protection you need. In fact, a poorly fitted mouthguard can cause even more damage when hit with an intense force. Properly fabricated, custom-fit mouthguards play a significant role in not only preventing dental injuries and injuries to the jaw, but also in reducing concussions, pulpal injury and the loss of teeth. Mouthguards are used to relieve the stress concentrated on the teeth by absorbing the shock vibrations that cause injury.
Let’s take a look at the basic functions of the mouthguard:
- Mouthguards prevent cuts and bruising during impact.
- Mouthguards prevent tooth fractures or dislocations by cushioning the teeth.
- Opposite teeth are protected from contact with each other.
- The lower jaw is protected so impact does not fracture or damage the bone.
- Mouthguards help reduce injury to the brain. Without a mouthguard, the force that hits the mouth can cause the jaws to violently jar together which can result in a concussion.
- Mouthguards are used as a preventative measure against neck injuries.
- Mouthguards help athletes feel more comfortable and protected.
Sports injuries can cause lasting damage. It goes beyond just the possibility of losing a tooth. Some jaw and neck injuries can prevent an athlete from ever playing sports again. This does not just pertain to professional sports. High school and college football players are just as likely to obtain a facial injury as an NFL player. Getting a serious injury, like a concussion or broken jaw, during these years can drastically change a person’s future. It is estimated that an athlete has over a 50 percent chance of receiving an oral injury during their career in sports. A properly fitted mouthguard is going to reduce the opportunity for injury and also the severity of injury.
Who Should Wear A Mouthguard?
The American Dental Association recommends that athletes who play these sports wear a custom mouthguard:
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
A Well-Fitted Mouthguard
A properly fabricated mouthguard covers and protects all of the teeth and has an adequate amount of thickness to cushion the jaw. There is ample room between the top and bottom teeth so that if someone is hit in an upwards motion, the teeth are not forced together. It should also protect the front teeth from a frontal blow that can knock the teeth out. It should easily stay in place without much movement and it should feel comfortable in the mouth while wearing it.
Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and mouth and create a mouthguard specifically for you. If you have braces or a fixed bridge, the dentist will mold your mouthpiece around them for a precise fit. When you have the braces removed, you will need to get a new mold and a new mouthguard from the dentist. Mouthguards for children will have to be replaced often as they grow. Even adults need to change their mouthguards regularly so that they have maximum protection. The mouthguard can grow weak over a period of time and after much use, so replacing the mouthguard ensures proper protection. When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age.
Oral injury is not something to leave to chance. Yes, you may play over 100 games without incident, but it only takes one time of getting hit the wrong way and you can have a permanent injury. If you need help with getting yourself or your child a custom fit mouthguard, be sure to visit a dentist before that next game!