- April 2, 2019
April is Facial Protection Month for a good reason. With Spring in the air (most days!) kids of all ages are hitting the fields, ready to show off their baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, soccer and track and field skills. While the focus is on fun, it is just as important to make sure every athlete is properly protected from injury. The American Dental Association estimates that 10 to 20 percent of all youth sports-related injuries are to the face and jaws (maxillofacial).
Dental injuries, such as a broken tooth, are the most common type of facial injuries. A custom mouth guard for sports is the best defense to protect teeth against damage. There are three types of mouth guards from which to select. For best protection, choose a custom mouth guard. Here’s why.
Stock Mouth Guard
These are generally available at most sporting goods stores in small, medium and large sizes. They are the least effective option because they can’t be modified to fit the wearer’s mouth, can impair breathing and only stay in place when the mouth is closed.
“Boil-and Bite” Mouth Guard
These are also available in sporting goods stores and provide better protection than stock mouth guards. Wearers need to prep the mouth guards by boiling them in water to soften, then bite down on devices to form to their teeth. If the athletes have braces, this process does not work well and can damage the orthodontic appliances. These mouth guards tend to wear out quickly and must generally be removed from the mouth to be able to speak clearly.
Custom Mouth Guard
These are, as the name suggests, made from a full-mouth impression taken at your dental provider and fabricated offsite in a dental lab. Because the mouth guard is made especially for the wearer, the fit is tight yet comfortable. This long-lasting option provides the most protection because it covers all the teeth, cushions the jaw and is generally thicker than store-bought options. Athletes can also speak and breath without interference
We hear a lot about the prevalence of head injuries in the news lately. An Academy of General Dentistry study finds that a custom mouth guard provides a measure of protection against concussions because
“it helps absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limits movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw.”Academy of General Dentistry
Not Just For Game Day
Like any protective equipment, a custom athletic mouthguard only works if they are worn. Injuries are just as likely to happen during practice as during games. It’s important to wear the custom-fit mouthguard every time athletes participate in sports activities.
Make sure to talk to your children about why mouth guards are essential. If appropriate, also chat with the team coaches and get their buy-in and support.
Shorewood Dental offers custom-made mouthguard services. Call now to make an appointment to better protect your athlete’s face and teeth with a mouthguard made just for them.