It’s back to school season and that means many kids will be returning to their favorite sports. It also may be time to think about mouth protectors, or mouth guards, to a prevent a child’s teeth from harm when playing those sports. Any athletes that participate in sports that involve contact like football, hockey, lacrosse, basketball, or ones that involving falling elements, like skateboarding, mountain biking, or gymnastics, should think about wearing a mouth guard to protect injury to their teeth. Most mouth guards cover the upper teeth, though if you are a braces or bridge wearer, a practitioner like Dr. Amanda Tinkle, a general dentist in Vancouver, Washington, may suggest protection for all your teeth.
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, dental damages are the most common type of mouth and face injury occurring in sports. Use of a mouth guard can save hours in the dental chair, and also ten of thousands of dollars of possible lifetime dental bills. The prevention of mouth and teeth damage can help prevent development of future oral health issues like gum disease. The American Dental Association reports that mouth guards help prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone.
There are three main types of mouth guards, each with its own benefits and drawbacks:
Stock Mouth Guard
This type of guard is most commonly seen in sporting goods stores where it comes pre-formed and ready to use. Though they are very inexpensive and are meant to be worn “off the rack”, you cannot easily adjust their fit in your mouth. They also can be cumbersome and can affect your talking and breathing. Stock guards also provide very little overall protection, as they lack any retaining abilities, and are usually held in place through constantly biting down on them. Though some athletes attempt to modify this type of mouth guard though cutting and molding, this process can also dramatically reduce their already limited protectiveness.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guard
These mouth protectors are made from a thermoplastic material. This material allows them to be put in hot water to soften tbem, permitting the user to place the guard in the their mouth and adjust the shape around the teeth using their fingers and tongue. These are among the most common mouth guards on the market, and one of the most advertised. Boil and bite mouth guards have drawbacks thoough, as they ae only available in a narrow selection of sizes and may not cover all your teeth. In addition, athletes again may try to alter them, resulting in a lack of coverage on some teeth. Though these guards can also be found at sporting good stores, it is crucial to carefully follow the directions to insure proper fit
Custom Made Mouth Guard
The best and most protective options for protecting your mouth when playing sports are custom-fitted guards. These options, though more expensive, are made by a dentist and a professional lab, and are based on measurements taken by your dentist. To create a custom fit, an impression is taken of your teeth, then the guard is molded over this example using special materials. The dentist will also take into account your age, sports type and other dental history factors when creating these mouth protectors. Due to the fact they are custom made, these mouth guards fit and usually feel better to the wearer, so most athletes prefer them.