Mouth-Guards for Sports
While many of our patients enjoy playing sports, Dr. Aljanabi believes it is important for them to protect the investment they have made in their smile with a mouth-guard. If you take a ball to the face, or if you have a serious fall, the damage could be severe: teeth could be broken or knocked out. If you’re an orthodontic patient, your braces may also be damaged. This might mean knocked off or broken brackets, or bent or broken wires. All of these problems can be expensive to fix, and might even have a permanent effect on your smile. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to greatly reduce your risk: wearing a mouth-guard.
Which sports require mouth-guards?
The American Dental Association and the International Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend the use of mouth-guards while playing the following sports:
- Hockey (field hockey or ice hockey)
- Martial arts
- Gymnastics or acrobatics
- Track and field
- Inline skating
All of these sports may cause injury to the mouth, either through contact with an object (such as a ball or puck) or with the ground (through a fall). If you engage in any of these sports, or in any other activity in which a serious injury to the mouth may occur, you should strongly consider wearing a mouth-guard to protect your smile.
What types of mouth-guards are available?
In general, there are three types of mouth-guards available: stock mouth-guards, boil-and-bite mouth-guards, and customized mouth-guards. On the one hand, stock mouth-guards and boil-and-bite mouth-guards are available at sporting goods stores and drugstores. On the other hand, customized mouth-guards are made by a dental professional.
Stock mouth-guards only come in a few sizes (usually just small, medium, and large). While you choose the size that you believe will be the closest fit for you or your child, the mouth-guard is worn straight out of the box and tends to provide only minimal protection, possibly not even fully covering the back teeth. The Academy of Sports Dentistry does not consider a stock mouth-guard to be sufficient protection for the mouth and teeth while playing sports. Additionally, because it isn’t customized at all, it often feels uncomfortable, especially for those wearing braces.
While boil-and-bite mouth guards are also purchased over-the-counter, they do allow a small amount of customization. These mouth-guards are made of a rigid plastic shell with a slightly softer plastic inner layer. By boiling the mouth guard, the inner layer softens. The athlete then places the mouth guard into the mouth and bites down, allowing the material to conform to the shape of the athlete’s teeth and set. The resulting mouth-guard will fit better than its stock counterpart would; however, the fit is often imperfect. Though the inner layer is customized to some extent, the outer layer is not, which can make it uncomfortable, not unlike stock mouth-guards.
The third type of mouth-guard is a customized mouth guard. According to the Academy of Sports Dentistry, a customized mouth-guard is more protective than any other type. A customized mouth-guard is created by a dental care professional. For our patients, Dr. AlJanabi can fit you for a mouth-guard here in the office, making it extremely convenient to get the best protection for your smile. He will take a scan with our ITERO scanner, which are then sent to a dental appliance manufacturer to make your customized mouth-guard. If you wear braces, the mouth-guard will be designed to fit around them, helping to protect them from damage while still being comfortable.
Sometimes, people are concerned about the cost of a customized mouth-guard. While it’s true that this is the most expensive option, its also important to consider the potential cost of a sports injury as a single injury to the face could result in the need for extensive and costly dental repair work. The cost of this is usually far greater than the cost of a mouth-guard.
If you’re a parent, you know that most kids and teens will only stick with wearing something if it’s comfortable. If your child’s mouth-guard is bulky, stiff, or poorly-fitting, the chances are good that your child will try to get away with not wearing it. (In fact, many adults will not stick with wearing an uncomfortable mouth-guard either.) Making sure that your child has a well-fitting mouth-guard will not only help to ensure his or her comfort, but also makes it far more likely that the mouth-guard will be worn as directed.
If you or your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment, then you’re making an investment in a smile – one that will pay dividends for many years to come. Just as you protect your other investments, it’s important to protect your smile too. A mouth-guard is strongly recommended if you play contact sports, even if you only play occasionally or on a non-competitive level. Many schools and leagues actually require mouth-guards for certain sports. Dr. AlJanabi can fit you for a mouth-guard right here in our office, so getting the best protection for your smile is also as convenient as possible. To get fitted for a mouth-guard, contact us to schedule an appointment, or talk to Dr. AlJanabi at your next regularly scheduled appointment.