Mouth guards are a required part of the “uniform” for participation in certain sports. But, just as a single size uniform won’t fit every player, an all-purpose mouth guard might not be the best for every mouth or set of teeth.
Custom mouth guards make protection personal. And that’s your best bet to ensure that your teeth, gums and smile last not only until the end of the season, but throughout your life. At Briglia Dental Group, we are equipped to care for your teeth when something goes wrong, but we are dedicated to helping you make certain that all goes right in terms of protection, whether or not you participate in contact sports.
That protection takes the form of helping children begin a lifelong regimen of proper tooth care and oral health. By scheduling regular checkups, helping to instill good habits, taking care of any cavities that occur, straightening or realigning teeth to perfect your smile, and other forms of restorative and cosmetic treatments for your teeth and gums, we are your best friend and your first line of defense when it comes to assuring that your teeth, gums and mouth remain healthy and serve you well.
Our practice is built on the premise that tooth care should begin early — as early as when those first baby teeth appear in the gums — and continue throughout life. We tailor our care to individual patient needs.
The Need to Protect Teeth and Gums
Contact team sports such as football today always require some form of tooth and gum protection for players. Since mouth guard requirements were mandated, school and professional teams have experienced a dramatic decrease in serious injury to the “orofacial” complex, according to information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, not only football players are at risk.
Today, American youth participate in competitive sports in record numbers, with an increasing rate of accidents, by some estimates, equal to about 36% of total accidental injuries to children. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that 10 to 20% of all youth sports injuries are maxillofacial; and the majority of those cause damage to the teeth. Dental and medical professionals also agree that properly fitted mouth guards may help reduce concussion rates in athletes. Without a protective mouth guard, an athlete can be 60 times more likely to sustain an injury that will require medical attention. These statistics from the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety are sobering.
Not All Mouth guards Are Equal
There are three basic types of mouth guards: Stock or ready-made “over the counter” models; mouth-formed types sometimes described as “Boil and Bite” models; and those custom formed by a dentist.
While stock mouth guards are better than no protection at all, they can be uncomfortable. Because they are not fitted to an individual mouth, they also might provide inadequate protection against the three serious types of dental injury. Those injuries fall into three broad categories:
- Fractures: Damage to roots, and broken or chipped tooth enamel
- Avulsion: Knocking out an entire tooth, root included.
- Luxation: The tooth remains in the gum socket, but is not in its correct position.
Under some circumstances, teeth can be saved and even reinstalled in the mouth, if quick and proper action is taken following an accident.
When to Use a Mouth guard
Current recommendations by the ADA include wearing properly fitted mouth guards for all practice sessions as well as during actual competition, and the list of sports for which mouth guards are recommended is long. For some sports, primarily football, hockey and boxing, they are required; for other athletes, including gymnasts, skateboarders and skiers, weightlifters, wrestlers and surfers, they are recommended. Students of martial arts and handball and volleyball players might also be wise to consider mouth and tooth protection, according to sports and medical authorities. Always consult with a coach or trainer, or with your dentist, if you have any questions about the advisability of a mouth guard.
What you should remember is that, once a tooth is damaged or lost, it cannot be “regrown” or replaced naturally. While a dentist can work wonders with modern procedures and materials, preserving and protecting natural teeth is always a better option than implants and substitutes, not to mention the time, effort and cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a child who wants to try out for the team, we can help you determine what is best for those young teeth at a particular stage in life. If your athlete is a star player, however, we recommend that you contact us to discuss custom fitting a mouth guard that will provide a high level of protection, offer wearing comfort and last as long as necessary. No matter what type you choose, the mouth guard must not be subject to tearing and should not restrict breathing or speaking. Mouth guards can be formed from a variety of different materials, but they should be durable, resilient and easy to clean.
The best mouth guards are an investment, but beyond the monetary expenditure, they are an important investment in your child’s future well-being.
We know that you and your children want to be fit and active, and we certainly encourage both children and adults to participate in sports. But, whether it’s football or ice hockey, ocean surfing or dirt biking, we recommend that you consider the consequences. Practice may make perfect in terms of the sport, but precaution is always warranted to protect your health, your appearance and your future. Why not contact us to schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located in West Chester, PA and are available to help you guard that smile and ensure your oral health.