Did you know that every year thousands of accidents involving trauma to the mouth or teeth occur during sport-related activities?
Research indicates that oral injuries in sports prevail and that they have important medical, financial, cognitive, psychological and social costs.
One study found out that 75% of oral injuries among high school student athletes happen among hockey and football players who did not wear a mouth guard.
Prevent broken teeth
Persons performing high-risk, group and contact sports such as hockey and football, or boxing, skateboarding, karate, gymnastics, snowboarding, mountain biking, or all sports liable to cause injury to the mouth, should always wear a mouth guard.
These guards prevent countless impact and shock injuries to the teeth and the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders): broken teeth, cut lips,inadvertent biting, lacerations and fractures of the jaw. Injuries can result in fillings, crowns, root canals or in some cases the loss of a tooth. Only decades ago, it was unusual to see a hockey player with unbroken front teeth; today, an intact anterior dentition is the norm.
The ideal mouth guard should be 3 mm thick to properly absorb and distribute the shock in the entire apparatus with a direct hit on the mouth. It also alleviates teeth clenching that can cause fractures and excessive wear.
What are different types of mouth guards?
- This mouth guard is perfectly adapted to your teeth because tailor-made by your dentist or a specialized laboratory. It carries a molded print of all your teeth to ensure comfort, performance and protection.
- It allows one to speak and breathe easily and it fits easily in the mouth because it shapes the teeth perfectly. These mouthguards are the preferred choice of athletes. However, these are the most expensive.
- It’s adaptable to orthodontic appliances and braces, and parts of the protector can be enhanced according to the risks involved in your sport.
2) The ready-to-use mouth guard
- This one-size-fits-all ready-to-wear model sold in most sports equipment stores is cheap to buy. Simply slip it in your mouth and play, but make sure you clench your teeth to keep it in place.
- With its bulky size, this mouth protector doesn’t always adapt well to the shape of the teeth and makes breathing difficult. Unfortunately, it offers very little protection.
- This “universal” mouth guard is immersed and softened in hot water before being put in the mouth and bitten so that it fits around the teeth and matches the shape of the mouth.
- Available in many colors and flavors in sports stores, it can provide better protection than ready-to-wear teeth guards. Follow instructions carefully to ensure your mouth guard remains suitable.
Why a “universal” mouth guard is ineffective
- Pre-formed mouth guards available in stores provide no real protection and they restrict your breathing and speech.
- It’s been proven that the injury rates in athletes who wear these is the same as in those who wore none.
- The boiled mouth guard is unstable, it eventually loses its shape, and its thermoplastic material is not evenly distributed in the mouth.
- Occlusion is unstable and the jaw is often knocked out of alignment during an impact, and that’s when athletes need most protection.
Are mouth guards hazardous to your health?
The good news is that many sports participants have been educated (or perhaps required) to wear sports mouth guards during games.
The bad news is that these same protective mouth guards can act as bacterial pools that infect and re-infect the wearer’s mouth. It’s tossed into the equipment bag, and left to grow bacterial colonies until the next game. Rarely are these guards rinsed or cleaned.
With regular wear, mouth guards get damaged and protect less your teeth during sports. Ideally, they should be replaced at the end of each sports season. Teens should renew them regularly because their jaws and teeth continue to grow to adulthood.
Typically, athletes who practice several sports year-round replace mouth guards every 6 months or during the routine check with their dentist.
What has to be done
- Our dentist Dr. Martin Dubois recommends wearing a mouth guard during training, competition and practice in a contact sport.
- The best mouth guards are specially made for your mouth by an oral professional.
- Choose a brightly coloured mouth guard, easily spotted if lost the game, on a field or on the ice.
- Remove splints and other orthodontic appliances before inserting your mouth guard.
- Replace it regularly, or when it twists and wears out, or becomes uncomfortable in the mouth.
- Rinse with cold water or mouthwash before and after each use. Clean it with a brush and toothpaste.
- Keep it in a sturdy and perforated container to prevent damage and to allow air circulation.
- Have your sports mouth guard evaluated by your dental hygienist at every visit.
And not done
- Do not chew your mouth guard during sports.
- Don’t use hot water to clean it, only cold water.
- Don’t leave it in the sun or in the glove compartment. Extreme heat can alter its shape and reduce its effectiveness.
- Finally – do not share your mouth guard between players.
Investing in a custom quality mouth guard
Parents, physical education teachers, coaches, encourage your young sportsmen and athletes to invest in a high-quality custom-made protective oral apparatus for their teeth.
For more information, inquire at one of our dental hygienists for advice on the purchase, use and care of oral protectors to keep them in good condition at (819) 770-3636.
Or make an appointment with our athletic Dr. Dubois Martin, a hockey player himself, for an evaluation of your young athlete’s mouth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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