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With a new academic year starting, many of the youth in our communities are beginning tryouts for their Fall sports and activities. Is your child one of them? No matter what sport your child engages in, there is always some sort of required protective equipment. In volleyball there are knee pads, in soccer they wear shin guards, and football builds protective padding into the shoulders and thighs of the uniform. Something that often gets overlooked, however, is the protection of the mouth.

Mouth guards are currently only required for athletes participating in ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, and football (Rondon). This is extremely unsettling as, “An athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard” (Vastardis).

What exactly does a mouth guard do and how does the wearer benefit from this? In an article by Peter D. Vastardis, DMD, he cites:

  • Mouth guards prevent laceration and bruising during impact by acting as a buffer between the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks and the teeth.
  • Mouth guards prevent tooth fractures or dislocations by cushioning the teeth from direct frontal blows while redistributing the forces of impact.
  • Opposing teeth are protected from seismic contact with each other.
  • Mouth guards help reduce neurologic injury by acting as shock absorbers between the upper and lower jaws. This helps protect the athlete from concussion.

What kind of mouth guard provides the most benefits? There are three types of mouth guard described by Nayda Rondon: stock, mouth-formed (also known as bite and boil), and custom. The first two options are certainly better than nothing, but they are often ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and lacking in beneficial protection. Custom mouth guards are designed to provide exact fit and cover each tooth as they are made from an impression mold at your dentist’s office. They provide the best fit, protection, durability, and overall comfort of the three mouth guard options.

In fact, research from the Academy of General Dentistry (as featured in Science Daily) shows “high school football players wearing store-bought, over-the-counter mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted mouthguards.” When it comes to buying a mouthguard, it’s suggested that parents who want to reduce the risk of a sports-related concussion in their child should invest in a custom designed mouthguard (Academy of General Dentistry).

Some Smiles Dental offices are able to take impressions and have a custom mouth guard created for your child. Talk to one of our office team members at the location nearest you to find out what we can do to help protect your child!

The American Dental Association, “recommends the use of a mouth guard for 29 sports/exercise activities. These include acrobatics, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, gymnastics, handball, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.” (Rondon). Teaching your children the importance of protecting their teeth can start by providing them with the proper equipment and knowledge that will lead to lifelong, positive habits.

Sources:

Academy of General Dentistry. “Custom-made mouthguards reduce athletes’ risk of concussion, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501101133.htm. Accessed 12 August 2014

Nayda Rondon. “Mouth Guards: Types and Advantages.” Available at http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/mouth-guards/. Accessed 8 August 2014.

Peter D. Vastardis, DMD. “Athletic Mouthguards: Indications, Types, and Benefits.” 30 November 2005. Available at http://www.dentistrytoday.com/sports-dentistry/357-athletic-mouthguards-indications-types-and-benefits. Accessed 8 August 2014.