Grin and Wear It

With the Olympics occupying much of our attention these days, I feel the need to share some information on mouthguards. How many of our Olympic athletes are wearing mouthguards? The potential for sports-related injuries is an unfortunate fact of life for today’s athletes. Dental and facial injuries generally include broken, displaced, or knocked out teeth, especially the front teeth, lacerations or tears of the lips, broken jaws, and damage to the TMJ or jaw-joint. A blow to the chin or other part of the head can can cause loss of consciousness, dizziness, concussions or even more severe complications. Just this year alone, we have seen four teenage boys in our office for sports-related injuries to their front teeth. Everything from chipped teeth, to blackened teeth that eventually may need to be replaced, to both front teeth being knocked out and down the road will need to be replaced with implants. None of these boys wore a mouthguard.

Dentist prescribed, custom-made mouthguards are essential for the prevention of painful and costly sports-related dental and facial injuries. In fact, an important study by the American Dental Association confirms that 31% of high school basketball players suffered from some form of dental or facial trauma during their careers if they did not wear a mouthguard.

Not all mouthguards, however, are created equal. Store-bought, stock and boil-and-bite mouthguards provide some protection at low cost, but they are usually uncomfortable, ill fitting, and can make talking or breathing difficult. It is for this reason that many athletes do not wear mouthguards.

The procedure for making custom mouthguards is simple. The dentist takes impressions (molds) of your mouth and has you bite on a piece of wax. Models of your mouth are sent to a lab, and then the mouthguard is made. It is strong, comfortable, and allows for easy speaking and breathing, but does cost more than those that are store-bought, however more athletes have stated they wear them because they fit them better.

So, as we enjoy watching our American athletes compete in the 2012 Olympics, check out the physical nature of their sport. Does your child participate in that sport? Remember that the cost of a custom mouthguard is far less than rebuilding or replacing unprotected teeth.
ADA Information on Mouthguards