In contact sports, mouth guards have an important role in terms of protecting the athlete. Besides there most obvious benefits of protecting your teeth, gums and jaw, they also reduce the risk of brain injuries. However, for optimal functionality, the guards should be properly maintained. Proper maintenance includes replacing the guard when signs of wear occur and washing and storing the guard safely after each use.
Because the use of mouth guards has been mandatory in sports like football, hockey and lacrosse, the number of dental injuries has dramatically declined. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that the majority of mouth injuries in sports occur in baseball, basketball, soccer and gymnastics where the use of protection equipment is not mandatory. According the recent studies, most injuries in these sports could have been easily prevented had the athlete been wearing a properly fitted mouth guard.
Mouthguards are soft pieces of plastic worn over the teeth and should be used by anyone who plays contact sports or is involved in any activity that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth.
Stock/OTC: The least expensive and least protective. These mouth guards can be bought at most sporting goods stores and pharmacies. Because of their bulky nature and non-moldable fit, these guards make breathing and speaking very difficult.
Boil and Bite: With price ranges between $10 and $25, these mouth guards offer very good protection. They can be bought on many online sites or purchased at sporting goods stores. Made from thermoplastic materials, hot water is used to soften the plastic and allow molding to the teeth. Customization around the teeth can be done using fingers and tongue pressure.
Custom: The most expensive. Prices range from $85 to $300 and are made by a dental office of laboratory. These guards offer protection as well as comfort level similar to boil and bite mouthguards. The high prices are caused by the time and work involved from a dentitst.
A badly maintained mouth guard may increase the number and intensity of mouth injuries and expose the athlete to an higher chance of infection due to bacteria it easily collects.
We recommend these safety tips:
1. Replace when mouth guard shows signs of wear. Once a mouth guard becomes distorted, it should be replaced immediately.
2. Replace if uncomfortable. Because of changes in mouth structure, especially with youth athletes, it is common that custom fitted or molded mouth guards become uncomfortable. We recommend replacing the mouth guard if it becomes uncomfortable in order to reduce the chances of developping any type of oral lesion or respiratory distress.
3. Regular sanitization. Because mouth guards are used in mouths which are humid environments, they become breeding ground for bacteria. We recommend cleaning with anti-microbial solutions after every use.
Mouthguards should be used by anyone, both children and adults, who participate in sports. For more information on how to choose the best mouth guard for your needs, visit our blog section entitled "How To".