While sports and recreational activities are an integral part of modern life, participating in them puts the participant at risk of taking blows to the mouth, which could result in damage to the teeth, gums and jaws. Dental injuries are most common in collision or contact sports and recreational activities. In order to protect our oral health during sports, it’s important to obtain and consistently use a mouthguard, a flexible custom-fitted device that you wear over your teeth during recreational activities to keep them safe.
The American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouthguard for contact sports, such as ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football as well as several other sports and activities. Studies have shown that mouthguards offer significant protection against sports-related injuries to the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth, and some studies suggest that they may even aid in preventing concussions.
According to a meta-analysis of studies performed in 2007, the overall injury risk of a participant in athletic activity was found to be 1.6-1.9 times greater when a mouthguard was not worn, relative to when mouthguards were used. Another study of college basketball teams found that athletes wearing custom-made mouthguards sustained far fewer dental injuries than those who did not wear mouthguards.
mouthguardWhen looking into the different types of mouthguards, keep in mind that the ideal mouthguard allows the wearer to speak and breathe easily during the game. This is an example of getting exactly what you pay for. While you can find mouthguards at department stores and sporting goods stores, the best mouthguards are custom-fitted to the wearer and can only be found at your dentist’s office. The mouthguards from your dentist’s office are well-formed enough to stay in place and durable. If you or your child is getting involved in an organized sports league, talk to your dentist about the best options available to protect your teeth and gums.