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Athletic Mouthguards: What You Need to Know


girl with athletic mouthguard

Not sure if your child —or you—needs a mouthguard?   If you’re asking the question, the answer is probably yes.


What is a mouthguard?

Mouthguards cushion facials blows by preventing the lower teeth from being slammed into the upper teeth, which significantly reduces the risk of concussions and damage to your teeth. They usually cover the upper teeth, but can be made to wear on the lower teeth if necessary.  Mouthguards can be customized for braces.
There are three main categories of mouthguards:  stock, boil-and-bite, and custom.


    1. 1.  Stock mouthguards are bulky and loose, and generally not effective at preventing injuries.


    1. 2.  Boil-and-bite mouthguards are softened in hot water then shaped to your teeth.   These protect better than stock mouthguards, but can sometimes cause jaw soreness or sore spots on the gums.  If you choose a store-bought mouthguard, be sure to look for the ADA seal of approval.


  1. blue and yellow mouthguard3. Custom mouthguards are fabricated by your dentist specifically for you.  They are customized to your teeth and the shape of your mouth.  They are less bulky, which allows you to talk easier, and makes them more comfortable. At Bizeau Dental, we often make them in blue and yellow — Yay, Newberg High School! — but they are available in many colors and patterns.  All that is needed is a simple impression by your dentist.





Do I have to wear a mouthguard?

Yes!  Always wear a mouthguard while playing sports.  According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists , athletes are 60 times more likely to injure their teeth if they are not wearing a mouthguard, yet 67% of parents say that their children do not wear a mouthguard while playing sports.  Even non-impact sports, such as skateboarding or gymnastics, can result in trauma to the teeth.  Everyone who engages in activities that could result in facial injuries, regardless of age should wear a mouthguard.
The American Dental Association recommends mouthguards for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weight-lifting, and wrestling.  Mouthguards are also recommended in other recreational activities where there is a risk of your face hitting something hard.


Properly-fitted mouthguards are essential in preventing oral injuries.

Dental injuries that can result from facial trauma include:


    1. Fractured Teeth:  Teeth can chip or crack.  Some times this is repairable with a filling or crown, or sometimes the fracture can be severe enough that the tooth needs a root canal or even extraction.


    1. Displacement:  This happens when the tooth is “loosened.”  A displaced tooth can usually be stabilized and saved, but will almost always need a root canal.


  1. Avulsion:  The tooth can be knocked out entirely.  Sometimes the tooth can be re-inserted and saved with a root canal, or sometimes the tooth will need to be replaced with an implant or bridge.


The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports that dental injuries are the most common orofacial injury, which can start a lifetime of expensive dental procedures and hours of dental treatment.


Dental injuries happen often in many sports.  It is important to be evaluated by your dentist if you have traumatized your teeth.  Please contact us if you have questions about dental sports injuries, orofacial trauma, or mouthguards.


Test your mouthguard IQ here:   ADA Mouthguard Quiz



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