What’s the most important type of protective sports equipment? Lots of people would probably agree on a helmet. That answer’s not wrong, since helmets prevent sports players from undergoing serious and fatal head injuries. However, for contact sports, mouthguards can be just as important to a sports player’s well-being as a helmet.
Almost forty percent of all sports injuries happen near the facial region, which includes numerous forms of dental trauma. Athletic coaches and dentists realize the importance of proper safety equipment and the gravity of facial trauma, which is why they are so adamant about mouthguards.
Just like a helmet, mouthguards need to be fitted in order for them to prevent injury. Emilio Canal Jr, DDS, a former president of the Academy of Sports Dentistry says, “Mouth guards are protective safety equipment in sports, so they need to be properly fitted. It's no different than a helmet...You're not going to give a football player a helmet that's five times bigger than what he needs, because he's going to run around and it will be moving all over the place. If he gets hit, it's not going to protect him.”
There are a few different kinds of mouth guards:
Stock mouth guards can be found in most sporting goods stores and pharmacies. However, dentists don’t recommend this type of mouth guard because they offer very little protection. Also, one can’t adjust the fit, making it hard to talk and breathe.
Boil and bite mouthguards function exactly as described. By boiling them in water, these mouthguards can be molded to best fit the athlete’s unique bite. You can also find this variety at a sporting goods store.
Custom-fitted mouth guards are the type of mouthguard that dentists recommend because they’re individually crafted to fit the athlete. A dentist takes an impression of the athlete’s teeth and then ships the mold to a laboratory where the mouth guard is created.
As we dive headfirst into the warmer months, always ensure that you and your family are sporting the appropriate protective equipment. The following are a few of the more common dental issues associated with sports injuries. Speak with Dr. Snyder or Dr. Winks about the different types of mouth guards and ask which one is right for you. That way, you can prevent these issues.
- Missing teeth
- TMJ dislocation
- Crown fractures