A mouthguard is as important a piece of sports equipment as is the football, baseball or bat. While athletes can certainly compete without it, they’re not as safe. Wearing a mouthguard protects them and allows them to play worry-free. In fact, according to the American Dental Association, between 10 and 20 percent of sports-related injuries are to the maxillofacial region, which refers to the jaws and the face. With so many injuries affecting this area, it’s crucial that athletes protect themselves, with a mouthguard being one of the best ways.
A mouthguard is made of plastic or laminate, and fits inside the mouth. There are three types of mouthguards: pre-made (also called stock mouthguards), “boil and bite” mouthguards that you heat and mold to your mouth, and custom mouthguards created for each patient by a dentist. All three work, but the ideal mouthguard is one that is secure enough to stay in while you play but that doesn’t impair your ability to speak or breathe.
Prevalence of Dental Injuries in Sports
Among the many instances of maxillofacial injuries, a high number require medical intervention. Dental injuries are the most common type of maxillofacial injuries, and can include teeth getting broken, chipped or even knocked out. Damage to teeth can require at the very least a dental procedure such as having a loose tooth repositioned, and at worst having to receive a dental implant to replace a tooth that is knocked out or too severely damaged to be repaired.
Severity of Injuries in Sports
Sports-related maxillofacial injuries can range from relatively minor to quite severe. Concussions, for example, are not uncommon in several sports, but it’s believed that a custom-fitted mouthguard can help protect players against them. While many dental and head-related injuries obtained during sports are easy to treat — such as chipped or broken teeth — others can cause serious or permanent damage. Injuries to the jaw, for example, can require extensive and possibly invasive treatment. A mouthguard, however, protects against many of these and can provide a safer overall playing experience for both professional and amateur athletes.
Who Should Use a Mouthguard
Mouthguards are ideal for any athlete — ranging from kids to adult professionals — and for virtually every sport. In fact, the American Dental Association suggests using a mouthguard for a long list of recreational and competitive sports that includes wrestling, martial arts, skiing, hockey, basketball and many others.
At SD Sedation Dental, we provide all types of San Diego general dentistry services. We can answer any questions you have about mouthguards, as well as help you determine which type is right for you. Call for more information or book an appointment today.