According to the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA)*, it was reported that 13-39% of all dental injuries are sports-related, with 2-18% of the injuries related to the maxillofacial region.
While using mouthguards can’t completely prevent all dental injuries, they offer a high degree of protection. In fact, the ADA estimates that mouthguards can reduce the risk of sports-related dental injuries by as much as 93 percent.
A mouthguard is a device worn over teeth to protect them from injury. Though mouthguards are most commonly associated with contact sports like football and hockey, they can benefit athletes in any sport. The American Dental Association recommends that mouthguards be worn during any activity where there is a risk of upper teeth being hit, such as basketball, lacrosse, skateboarding, and even gymnastics.
Why Mouthguards Matter
Mouthguards cushion the blow to the teeth and help to prevent concussions by absorbing some of the force of impact. They also help keep the teeth in place, so they are less likely to be knocked out or broken if the athlete falls or is hit in the face.
And while dental injuries are certainly painful and costly to fix, they are not the only reason to wear a mouthguard. According to the Center for Disease Control, 5-10% of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sports season. A study by the Cumming School of Medicine and Sports Injury Prevention found that using a mouth guard lowered the odds of concussion by 64%.
Types of Mouthguards
There are three main types of mouthguards:
- Pre-made (also called stock)
Stock mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and do not require a trip to the dentist. However, because they come in only one size, they may not fit well and can make it difficult for the athlete to breathe and speak while wearing them.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that becomes soft when heated in water; this type can also be found at sporting goods stores or online. To use, simply place the mouthguard in boiling water for 30 seconds, then allow it to cool long enough so it can be inserted into the mouth without burning. Once in the mouth, conform it to fit using finger pressure or bite down hard so the teeth make an imprint; then allow it to cool completely before using.
Custom-fit mouthguards are made by dentists or other dental professionals from plaster molds or digital scans; these devices fit snugly over teeth and offer superior protection compared to stock or boil-and-bite guards. Because they are custom-made, they can be more expensive; however, many dental insurance plans will cover at least a portion of the cost
Your Oral Surgeon in Mesa
While wearing a mouthguard can certainly help to protect teeth, it is still possible to sustain a dental injury even with this extra layer of protection. If you have experienced dental trauma, such as a knocked-out tooth, it is important to seek treatment from a dental professional as soon as possible.
AZ Max Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery are here to help. Our oral surgeons are experienced in all types of dental trauma, from knocked-out teeth to complex jaw injuries. We will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your unique needs and ensures that your smile is restored. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today. Call (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form. We are located in Mesa, North Mesa, South Gilbert, Show Low, and Tempe.