Mouthguards may not be the first thing you think of when you’re headed for the gym or hopping on your bike, but maybe they should be! Anyone who has had a tooth knocked out due to athletics or an exercise mishap can tell you that nothing beats having your full set of real teeth. The easiest way to keep your smile safe is by wearing a mouthguard on the field, court, gym floor, and everywhere in between, but you may be wondering if they’re really necessary. Take it from those of us who have seen some pretty serious mouth injuries before: they are.
Here at Scott Edwards DDS, we have patients who participate in school or community sports, and others who are runners, bikers, and gym fanatics. As important as padding and helmets are, mouth protection is also essential for oral safety. A properly fitted mouthguard can prevent so many oral injuries, and greatly reduces the risk of lost or dislodged teeth due to sports injuries. They’re also affordable, easy to use, and effective for both light-impact and high-contact physical activities. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s worth investing in a mouthguard for the safety of your smile!
Who could benefit from a mouthguard?
Mouthguards are an excellent option for any active patient. While a custom-fitted mouthguard is ideal, we encourage any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in any kind of physical activity. Because dental injuries can be so easily prevented with the use of a mouthguard, we recommend that patients wear them when participating in any competitive and recreational sports, particularly those in which impact, contact, or collision are likely to occur. Similarly, the American Dental Association advocates for mouthguard use during any of the following physical activities.
- Martial Arts
- Water polo
- Field and Ice Hockey
- Equestrian Events
- Field Events
- In-Line Skating
- Any “Extreme Sports”
How mouthguards protect your smile
When it comes to preserving your teeth, you can’t beat a mouthguard! These simple and effective solutions are affordable, easy to use, and can help prevent damage from occurring even when used in high-contact sports like football and hockey. They offer a cushion during light contact or low-impact sports, too. This is useful as even small amounts of pressure can irritate your mouth and cause small cuts or abrasions to the gums and cheeks.
Sports-related injuries to the mouth can also lead to dislodged and broken teeth, or even broken bones in the jaw. If your teeth aren’t properly protected, any impact to your mouth can be more intense and increase the risk of concussion. The potential damage can have far-reaching effects as well. Some athletes suffer for years from stiffness and pain due to old neck and jaw injuries. If you have a permanent tooth that is significantly damaged, you’ll have to deal with it for a lifetime with restorations, crowns, or dental implants.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
Generally speaking, there are three categories of mouthguards. These all vary in cost, adaptability, and protection levels.
These are the most common kind of mouthguard, and are usually available at almost any sporting goods store. They are the least expensive type of mouthguard and don’t require a visit to the dentist first. This makes them a good choice for anyone on a budget! They do tend to be available in a limited range of sizes and you’ll have to leave your mouth shut to keep the mouthguard in place. Since it doesn’t adapt to your mouth, it can be less effective than other mouthguards. We often have these available at the office and would be happy to pass one along to you!
Mouth-formed (boil and bite)
These mouthguards are self-adapting. When placed in hot water, the mouthguard will soften and once it’s sufficiently cool, it can be inserted into the mouth. It will adapt to your mouth by bite pressure, with some guidance from your tongue and fingers. If necessary, one of our team members can provide assistance with the final molding. This type of mouthguard is also widely available at various sporting goods stores, and is generally designed for use at home.
Custom mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices. They’re created using impressions from a patient’s mouth. That customized fit means you’ll get the best fit, the most adaptability, and the ultimate in comfort! While they are the most expensive option and will require a visit to the office, custom-made mouthguards are the most effective way to fully protect your mouth when participating in physical activities.
While each of these mouthguards have their own pros and cons, all of them will provide you with protection from injury. Whatever type of mouthguard you choose, make sure it’s comfortable, resistant to tearing, and made of a resilient material! It should also fit securely, be easy to clean, and possess high-impact energy absorption that will reduce force in case of an impact. Most importantly, your mouthguards should never restrict your breathing.
Choose Scott Edwards DDS for a safer, healthier smile
We often take our teeth for granted, but a broken tooth can affect how you talk, smile, and eat. Not only that, but you’ll be dealing with the damage for the rest of your life. Root canals, veneers, fillings, and bonding are excellent treatments, but they don’t last forever. Consider using a mouthguard whenever you’re active—it’s the easiest, most effective thing you can do to protect your teeth from damage and avoid expensive procedures for years to come!
That said, dental injuries are still possible even if you always wear a mouthguard. If this happens, we recommend you get in touch with our office as soon as possible so that Dr. Edwards or Dr. Prince can assess the damage and recommend treatment to correct it.
Mouthguards are an essential piece of gear that should be part of any athlete’s equipment bag from an early age! To learn more about obtaining a custom mouthguard from our office, get in touch by calling 901-681-0011 for our Poplar office or 901-728-6515 for our Midtown location.