The Importance of Mouth Guards for Student Athletes
With a new school year comes the start of fall sports for many student athletes from elementary school up to college. Approximately one-third of all dental injuries are sports-related, so it is vital that athletes wear a mouth guard for sports that involve falls, body contact or flying equipment. Mouth guards typically cover the upper teeth and protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. If you wear braces or other fixed dental appliances on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for lower teeth as well. A properly fitted mouth guard will help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth, a fractured jaw and injuries to the lips, tongue or face. Some studies have indicated that mouth guards can even reduce concussion risk because they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw. No matter which type of mouth guard you choose, it should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should also fit properly and not restrict your speech or breathing. Mouth guard thickness also has been shown to be a factor that contributes to the level of protection. There are several to choose from:
- Custom-made mouth guards are individually designed and made in your dentist’s office or a professional dental laboratory. They are likely to provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and then constructs the mouth guard over a model of them.
- Boil and bite mouth guards come in a pre-formed shape that can be altered by boiling the mouth guard in water, then biting into the warm plastic for a customized fit. They can be purchased at many sporting goods stores.
- Stock mouth guards are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and may make talking and breathing difficult.
- Mouthguards for braces – A properly fitted mouth guard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances.
Between uses, it’s important to keep your mouth guard clean and dry. Here are some tips for making sure your mouth guard is always ready to go:
- Rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Regularly clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
- Store and transport the mouth guard in a sturdy container that has vents so it can dry and keep bacteria from growing.
- Never leave the mouth guard in the sun or hot water.
- Store your mouth guard where your pet cannot get to it. Many pets find mouth guards to be irresistible toys.
- Mouth guards should be replaced after each season because they can wear down, making them less useful. Replace your mouth guard immediately if it shows sign of wear, is damaged or ill fitting.
In the event of a mouth injury, please call us immediately so that we can help. Immediate care can help save permanent teeth. Town and Country Dental is here to help with all of your family’s dental care needs and we accept almost all PPO’s.