Sports are fun and a great way to get exercise, but there are some inherent risks involved. Whether it is for yourself or for your child, a sports guard is a great protective device to use when involved in athletic activity. We at Dental Partners of Boston highly recommend the use of sports guards for our athletically active patients.
Sports guards are a small plastic guard worn in your mouth to protect your teeth. The sports guards available through Dental Partners of Boston are comfortable to wear because they conform to your bite and the shape of your mouth. When using a sports guard during athletic activity, you will receive the following benefits:
Sports guards are beneficial for any patient who participates in physical activity, not just athletic competitions. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and boxing are common sports that use sports guards. However, sports guards should also be used in other athletic activity like gymnastics, skateboarding, and biking. A sports guard is a safety device that patients should not go without when involved in physical activity due to the risks of serious injury to a patient’s mouth as a result of an accident. All it takes is one impact to your mouth to cause serious tooth loss, nerve damage, and tongue injury.
The benefits of a custom-made sports guard are considerable:
A custom-made sports guard from Dental Partners of Boston covers and protects all your teeth, helping to absorb shock and distribute the impact across your teeth and surrounding jaw structure. But the benefits go further than this: sports guards also help to reduce cuts and bruising.
During sport, you expose your body to extreme impact. Jarring of your teeth can make you inadvertently bite into your gum, lips or tongue. Your regular teeth are hard and sharp and will pierce soft tissue easily under impact. But with a sports guard, you cut down on this risk, thanks to the flat, plasticated surface.
Mouthguards not only help to protect your teeth and prevent dislocation, but they also improve impact cushioning. Better impact cushioning helps to spread the force of impacts more widely, dissipating them efficiently, reducing the chance of potentially dangerous concussion.
While you can buy generic sports guards, most dentists do not recommend them. The reason is that the shape of your mouth is unique. You need a sports guard which conforms to the exact shape of your teeth so that you can get a comfortable fit and maximum protection.
Having a good fit is vital for all kinds of reasons. The main benefit is the fact that it ensures that nothing is loose and that impacts do not fall disproportionately on one region of your mouth more than another. Loose or improperly-fitting sports guards make injury and dislocation or teeth more likely.
The other significant benefit is psychological. When a mouthguard fits your jaw perfectly, you feel more confident on the field. You aren’t worried that your mouthguard might fall out at any point or fail to protect you.
When we make your sports guard, we take a direct impression of your teeth. We then use this impression to create the mould that will eventually form the basis of your new sports guard. Your custom sports guard, therefore, is precisely the same shape as your mouth.
Just imagine for a second if it wasn’t. You’d have tight sections in some areas and voids in others. Not only could this put undue forces on individual teeth, but it could also lead to rubbing and blistering.
There’s a practical consideration for parents too. One of the reasons your child might not want to wear a mouthguard is because it’s awkward to wear. If you take the discomfort away with a custom guard, your child will be more willing to wear it, reducing their chance of injury.
As you might expect, the thickness of the mouthguard is proportional to the protection that it offers. Some sports require a higher depth than others to protect against injury. Hockey players and boxers, for instance, need the thickest sports guards because of the direct threat to their teeth.
Other, lower contact sports, such as tennis, do not require the same level of protection and, therefore, the same level of thickness. The thicker the mouthguard, the less comfortable it is to wear, so choosing the correct thickness for your sport is vital.
When it comes to dental work, the cost is always a consideration. Dentists are modern miracle workers, repairing patient’s mouths after an accident or injury. These repairs can become costly. A sports guard can prevent these incidents from happening.
Wearing a custom-made sports guard is a sensible preventive strategy. It’s always better to prevent damage from happening in the first place. Remember, you are unlikely to get the same level of protection with generic, boil and bite sports guards from a sports store.
One of the great things about sports guards is that they not only protect the teeth and jaw but other sensitive tissues in the body too, including the brain and neck. Research by the Academy of Sports Dentistry suggests that a custom-made sports guard can help reduce the transmission of concussive forces into the brain and neck.
A concussion is a potentially life-threatening injury and can, in some cases, lead to permanent brain damage. Neck injuries are also devastating and can prevent players from ever engaging in sports again. The chance of these kinds of injuries is low, but you should take any precautions that you can to prevent them from happening. A mouthguard can protect in conjunction with other protective gear.
Sports injuries can lead to lasting damage. The benefits of mouthguards go well beyond the teeth, providing protection for the brain and neck too. A mouthguard could help you avoid serious concussive injuries or damage to your spinal cord. It’s a vital piece of equipment you can use in conjunction with other protective gear to minimize your overall chances of injury while playing sport.
The American Dental Association has produced a list of all the sports it recommends athletes wear a custom mouthguard. These sports include:
However, there’s no need to limit yourself to wearing a guard only for those sports on the ADA’s list. You can benefit from a custom-made mouthguard for all kinds of outdoor pursuits and athletic activities. Keen off-road mountain bikers, for instance, can benefit from mouthguard protection. So too can people who take part in non-contact athletics.
Sports pose a serious risk of injury to your mouth area. Not only are injuries painful and inconvenient, but they can be costly to correct. In all cases, prevention is preferable to cure.
Sometimes, the damage from a mouth injury can be permanent. The severing of nerves can result in permanent numbness in the lips and lower jaw area. Tooth and bone can be so damaged that teeth cannot be re-inserted. You could also suffer painful tongue injuries. Wearing a sports guard can help avoid these problems.
Our patients can receive a sports guard in a single visit to our Boston office. The process is easy and simple. Our dental team will take care of everything for you, answering any questions and addressing any concerns you have. Dental Partners of Boston has protected the smiles of numerous athletes in the local Boston area, so we are proud to offer the same sports guards and services to all of our patients.
A sports guard can help protect your teeth and oral health along with the existing dental work you’ve had done. To receive a sports guard or to learn more about sports guard, please contact Dental Partners of Boston today and make an appointment online or over the phone.
Maria E. Cardenas
Michael G. O’Toole