Athletes of all sports can benefit from wearing protective gear. From helmets to padding, protective gear can prevent injuries, such as concussions and fractures. Although it’s not as widely discussed, mouthguards are essential protective gear for athletes, too. Mouthguards can help prevent injuries to the teeth, jaws, and lips.
David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, of The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, are experts in creating custom mouthguards for athletes of all ages. In this blog, they highlight the benefits of wearing a custom-fit mouthguard.
A mouthguard is an oral appliance made of flexible plastic that fits over your teeth. Once in place, the mouthguard protects your mouth — including your teeth and jaws — from trauma. The American Dental Association estimates that athletes are a whopping 60 times more likely to experience oral injuries if they don’t have a mouthguard securely in place.
This is because mouthguards can help reduce impacts from outside forces, such as hits, or internal forces, such as jaws smacking together. These forces can cause broken or knocked-out teeth, broken jaws, and oral lacerations. Furthermore, wearing a mouthguard may also reduce the frequency and severity of concussions.
Mouthguards, regardless of the type, should fit properly, allow for unrestricted breathing, and be easy to clean. There are basically three types of mouthguards, which are listed below:
Ready-to-wear mouthguards, sometimes called stock mouthguards, are ready to wear right out of the package. However, they usually aren’t adjustable, and if they don’t fit properly, they won’t protect you fully. Without the ability to adjust them, these mouthguards might feel clumsy or fit oddly.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards are a step between stock mouthguards and custom-fit mouthguards. You can somewhat personalize your mouthguard by placing it in boiling water and then placing it in your mouth. When you bite down on it, it molds to your teeth. However, unlike custom-fit mouthguards, these tend to be a bit thinner, which can offer less protection.
Custom-fitted mouthguards offer the most personalized fit. These mouthguards are the most comfortable and effective, because they’re based on a mold of your teeth. This means we can accommodate all mouth sizes and any dental appliances you have. Custom-fitted mouthguards can also accommodate you if you wear braces.
Mouthguards should be worn during any contact sport — such as basketball, lacrosse, football, boxing, and hockey — no matter how old you are. However, mouthguards can protect your teeth even if you’re not playing contact sports.
If you’re participating in any individual sport or recreational activity that increases your risk of oral injury, consider wearing a mouthguard. This includes gymnastics, skateboarding, and mountain biking.
Using a mouthguard during athletic activities is an important part of your preventive dental care. In order to keep reaping the benefits from your mouthguard, you should keep it clean and in good condition. Here are a few tips for taking care of your mouthguard:
For the best protection, replace your mouthguard if you have changes in your mouth, such as the addition or removal of braces.
To keep your teeth protected with a custom mouthguard, book an appointment over the phone with The Woodlands Dental Group today.