Although tooth loss resulting from sports-related injuries can often be prevented by wearing a protective mouth guard, many athletic participants and parents of children who are involved in sports opt out of wearing this important piece of equipment unless a program mandates it. Athletic participation among children in the in the United States continues to rise, with an estimated 20 million taking part in organized programs and an additional 80 million engaging in unsupervised recreational play.
An increase in cases of sports-related injuries inevitably accompanies this burgeoning participation, which has prompted some states to begin requiring mouth guards for sports traditionally classified as non-contact, such as basketball, tennis, and soccer. Research shows that athletes are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth without the protection of a mouth guard, so while collision and contact sports like football and boxing pose a greater risk to the mouth, dental injuries can also occur in noncontact recreational settings.
Mouth Guard Options
1. Stock. These mouth guards come already formed and ready to wear. They are the least expensive, but tend to be bulky and ill-fitting, which can make breathing and talking difficult.
2. Boil and Bite. Because this type of mouth protector is softened in boiling water and then inserted into the mouth to form to the shape of the individual’s teeth, it may offer a better fit than a stock mouth guard.
3. Custom. Custom-fitted mouth guards made by your dentist are more costly than the other two options, but they provide the best fit and protection from physical trauma.
When creating custom mouth guards for patients, your doctor uses a cast to ensure superior fit and function. Typically fashioned from acrylic, this kind of mouth guard contains both hard outer layers and soft inner layers to maximize comfort and protection for the wearer. In cases where patients have allergies to acrylic, other materials can sometimes be substituted.
Proper fit is especially important for those who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A single blow to the face could potentially damage fixed orthodontic appliances like brackets, causing a great deal of pain as well as expensive repairs. When weighing mouth guard options for you or your children, it’s important to look at the big picture and take into account the worst case scenarios. A custom sports mouth guard may be pricier in the short-term, but in contrast with the thousands of dollars and hours of time in the dental chair that victims of total tooth avulsions contend with, this protective device is well worth the investment.
Your doctor can explain your options and help you or your child select the type of mouth guard that will provide the best protection. To learn more about custom sports mouth guards at our dental office, feel free to schedule a consultation.