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Athletic Mouthguard

For many adults and children who play contact sports, an athletic mouthguard is often overlooked. However, not wearing an athletic mouthguard can lead to damage to your smile and facial tissues.  Many people are unaware of the need for an athletic mouthguard, others just don’t think they are cool, and others might complain they are uncomfortable. For safety, every contact sport requires a well made athletic mouthguard. This will be essential to keeping your mouth and face protected.  Below you will find the most important reasons to wear an athletic mouthguard.

What Can An Athletic Mouthguard Do For Me?

Protect Against Tooth Fractures. Trauma to the mouth will often lead to a fractured tooth. An athletic mouthguard can help prevent or decrease the severity of these types of injuries, preserving your smile. If a tooth does get fractured, below are a few of the possible outcomes…

1. Small, Superficial Fracture. If the fracture is small enough and stays away from the nerve of the tooth, your dentist can probably repair it with tooth bonding. Tooth bonding uses a tooth colored material to match your existing teeth and restore form and function.

2. Fracture Exposing The Nerve Of The Tooth. At this point to save the tooth, root canal therapy will be needed and then rebuilding the tooth with a full coverage crown.

3. Fracture All The Way Down To The Root Of The Tooth. A fracture this large usually leaves only one option and that is a tooth extraction. Then to replace the tooth will invlolve placement of a dental implant, a fixed dental bridge, or a removable denture.

Protect Against Teeth Displacement. One of the main functions of an athletic mouthguard is to cushion any trauma that occurs around your teeth area. If you are hit in the face by a baseball when not wearing an athletic mouthguard, the tooth may not fracture but it could loosen your tooth and make it mobile or even fall out. A dentist may need to splint your teeth together to allow the tooth to heal on its own. Proper treatment should help lessen the chances of  permanent loss of the affected tooth.

Protect Against Knocking A Tooth Out. Blunt force trauma can literally knock a tooth out of its socket. This is called an avulsed tooth. Fortunately, if cared for properly and placed back in as soon as possible there is a chance of the tooth being saved. An athletic mouthguard decreases the chance of  this from even happening.

Possibly Protect Against Concussions. These types of injuries are all over the news of late with big time sports stars lives irrevocably damaged due to multiple concussions. Recent research has shown that wearing a well fitting athletic mouthguard may possibly lower the possibility of concussions. The athletic mouthguard acts as a cushion to lessen the force placed on the brain from contact sports. More research is needed for definitive proof.

Protect The Lips, Tongue, and Cheeks. When undergoing trauma, we have a tendency to bite down. Without an athletic mouthguard in place, we tend to bite down on the soft tissues in and around the mouth. Athletic Mouthguards can keep you from damaging those softer tissues while enjoying your favorite activities.

Protect Against Fractures Of The Jaw. Again, when undergoing trauma the force can be lessened by the cushion of the athletic mouthguard. Without that padding the force can break your jaw into pieces. A jaw fracture usually requires extensive surgery to repair.

Athletic Mouthguard Conclusion

A custom made athletic mouthguard costs more than a store bought one. The benefits of a custom athletic mouthguard are numerous. A poor fitting athletic guard may be a risk not worth taking.  Once a tooth is gone it is gone, concussion trauma causes long term issues, and jaw fractues are a huge concern. Why take the risk of damaging your beautiful smile? Or even your quality of life?



As children grow and become more active in contact sports, it is important to keep them fully protected. This might include the proper fitting helmet, proper pads for their shoulders, and even shin guards. One very important item is often overlooked,  the mouthguard. Many parents believe that the one you buy at the local sporting goods store is just as good as a custom made one. Recent research may prove otherwise.

Custom Mouthguards Protect Against Concussions?

Recent research published in an issue of General Dentistry may prove that custom mouthguards can reduce the risk of concussions while playing contact sports. The study followed over 400 high school football players from multiple teams. Approximately half the athletes were fitted with custom made mouthguards while the other half received the standard, over the counter, one size fits all, mouthguard. Helmet was not a factor as all participants wore similar style helmets. A player wearing an over the counter mouthguard had a doubled risk of concussion. About 8% of the players wearing over the counter mouthguards were diagnosed with concussions.

This is significant because while there are many factors that go into a player recieving a concussion, a custom made mouthguard can reduce that risk. The reduction in risk is believed to be from the custom mouthguard absorbing some of the shock, stabilizing the head and neck, and limiting movement of the jaw when applied with a direct force. One key factor the researchers found was in the thickness of the mouthguard. Most standard over the counter mouthguards are only about 1.65 millimeters in thickness while custom mouthguards are over 3.5 millimeters. That is a significant difference and may help explain the benefits of a custom mouthguard.

Types of Sports Mouthguards

Athletic mouthguards come in a few varieties. These include the following:

Stock Athletic Mouthguards. This mouthguard is typically the least expensive and offers the least protection for your athlete.  It is readily available in most sporting goods stores. Their prices range from a few dollars to about 25-30 dollars maximum. These sports mouthguards are ready to be used right out of the package. This type of sports mouthguard has some serious drawbacks. They tend to be quite bulky and lack any real retention. These tend to interfere with speech as well and breathing. These mouthguards  often need to be modified by the user and thus reduce protection and retention.

-“Boil and Bite” Sports Mouthguards. This is the most common type of sports mouthguard in use today. These are available at most sporting goods and drug stores. This type of guard is fairly inexpensive. These are better fitting and more protective than the stock athletic mouthguards. These tend to fit better since they are form- shaped by each athlete’s mouth and teeth. Hot water is all that is needed to adjust the plastic comfortably around the teeth and gums. These sports mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that is immersed in boiling water and then formed in the mouth using biting, finger, and tongue pressure. Even this can be a challenging task for some so it may be best to contact your dentist when using even these to ensure they fit properly and cover the teeth sufficiently for protection. These sports mouthguards come in only a few stock sizes so they may not fit all participants the same. Many studies have shown that these boil and bite sports mouthguards do not adequately cover all the teeth in a high percentage of high school and collegiate athletes.

Custom Fit Sports Mouthguards. These sports mouthguards are custom designed and fit just for each individual athlete. These are available thru your dentist. The entire process takes about one week to complete. The initial visit will include taking an impression of the upper teeth. This allows the dentist to create a model of your teeth which is then sent off to a dental laboratory. The laboratory technician will make a custom sports mouthguard adjusted  to fit each athlete’s preferences and needs. The sports mouthguard should cover all teeth on the upper arch to be considered to be offering adequate protection. The major advantages to a custom nightguard include:

-Protection of teeth, jaw, and from concussions.

-Increased retention

-Breathability. The custom appliances have been shown to allow for a better airway to help get the air you need.

-Thinner material to allow for better breathing while maintaining the protection.

-Longer lasting. While custom sports mouthguards will cost more it will last a significantly longer time than the other versions mentioned earlier.

-Personalized. You may choose your color so that you know it’s yours, or team colors/logos. You can also have your name imbedded in the sports mouthguard (a good example of this is the proform sports mouthguards) so that it can be readily identified. You do not want to mistakenly put someone elses sports mouthguard into your mouth!

-More hygienic. the higher quality material is less likely to embed bacteria within your sports mouthguard.

-Comfort. The custom fit allows for a much more comfortable feel.

Tips For Caring For Your Mouthguard

-After each use, brush and rinse your mouthguard with a toothbrush and cool water.

-Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Your dentist will give you a colored case for your mouthguard.

-Stay away from excessive heat. Do not store your mouthguard in direct sunlight or in a hot car. The heat can melt the mouthguard, altering the way it fits in your mouth and resulting in less protection.

-When you see your dentist twice a year for your regular cleanings, bring your mouthguard with you. Your dentist can give your mouthguard a thorough examination and cleaning. This will ensure it is in proper form.

-Contact your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your mouthguard.

Conclusion

Concussions and facial trauma are a big issue in professional sports as well as youth athletics. More research is needed, but the above study shows the value of having a custom mouthguard fabricated for your child by your dentist. The benefits of protection will far outweigh the cost from an injury (either medical or dental). Talk to your dentist about custom sports guards for your little athlete, you’ll be glad you did.