Mouth Guards: Why Everyone Needs to Wear One When Playing Sports
When playing contact sports, teams often require the players to wear protective headgear and pads. Yet one of the most important areas, your mouth, is generally left exposed. Organized sports teams do not typically require you to protect your teeth with a mouth guard, but doing so can save you from serious dental trauma. If you play any of these sports, the American Dental Association recommends wearing a protective dental mouth guard:
- Field Hockey
- Water Skiing
Often, you’ll hear teens refusing to wear a mouth gear because of speech or breathing difficulty that occurs when exercising. They may also avoid mouth guards because they’re concerned how they’ll look while wearing the protective gear. Although protective mouth gear may not always be the most popular choice, it could be the most important one you make.
Here are three reasons to overcome objections to using mouth guards during contact sports.
1. Mouth Guards Help You Avoid Tooth Displacement, Cracks, and Fractures
The most obvious purpose of the mouth guard in sports is to prevent your teeth from cracking or breaking. A misplaced elbow may cost hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in dental repair. Wearing a mouth guard creates a barrier between that elbow and your teeth, taking the brunt of the blow and distributing the force to more area, preventing broken or knocked out teeth.
Breaking or chipping a tooth can be quite painful, as can displacing a tooth. This happens when the tooth loosens from the force of the blow and wiggles after an injury. Over time, a displaced tooth could continue to loosen and eventually fall out. Displaced teeth require immediate attention to move the tooth back into the socket firmly and prevent future movement.
2. Prevent Permanent Facial Scarring With Mouth Guards
A direct hit to the mouth may not knock out or break a tooth, but it could cause the player to bite directly into the soft tissue of their mouth. Not only could this displace the tooth, it could potentially require you to need stitches and leave you with a scar.
Tongue and cheek injuries from teeth are common oral injuries in sports. Children with braces are especially susceptible to these injuries. A mouth guard for braces helps protect cheeks and gums from cuts. Even a clumsy trip and fall can result in the player biting through the tongue or cheek. These injuries can take weeks to properly heal and can be extremely annoying during the recovery process. A mouth guard protects this soft tissue in your mouth from sharp tooth surfaces that can cause lasting damage.
3. Mouth Guards Stop Jaw Bone Fractures
On top of broken teeth and tissue damage, a mouth guard protects against possible jaw fractures. Without the flexibility of a mouth guard to displace the force, the force simply becomes too much for your jaw to handle. A direct blow to the head that causes your teeth to bang together can put too much pressure on jawbones, resulting in breaks or fractures. The mouth guard acts as padding, saving your jaw from fractures that require surgery.
Tips For Buying and Cleaning Your Mouth Guard
When picking out your mouth guard, decide between a ready-made mouth guard, a “boil and bite” piece, or a custom-fitted mouth guard created and fitted by your dentist. These options vary widely in price and comfort level, but all of them provide protection against oral sports injuries.
Mouth guards should be checked every 12 months to ensure the fit is still comfortable and they should be washed after every wear. Store in a hard case in a dry place to prevent bacterial growth and avoid storing in a hot location as mouth guards quickly lose their shape when exposed to heat.
While it might not be the most fashionable or popular accessory, wearing a mouth guard will help prevent painful (and costly) injuries sustained from playing sports!