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How to convince patients to wear a mouthguard

Avulsed teeth and other oral injuries caused by collision sports can be painful and costly to treat but are often preventable by using a properly fitting mouthguard. So why is it that so many patients forego wearing this simple safety device?

In this post, we’ll look at three reasons why patients are reluctant to use a mouthguard and offer some easy tips for increasing mouthguard use at your practice.

Ignorance is not bliss

Most patients understand that mouthguards are important when playing football or hockey, but beyond these obvious contact sports, there’s a bit of gray area on when a mouthguard is or isn’t required.

Patients often don’t know that less violent sports such as soccer, volleyball, softball or basketball still greatly increase their risk of oral trauma. In fact, according to the American Dental Association, approximately 40 percent of all high school sports-related dental injuries are sustained on the basketball court or baseball field.

Therefore, don’t presume that a patient knows which sports present the possibility of oral trauma and which don’t. It only takes a second to ask if a patient participates in any sports and to suggest a mouthguard for added protection. You may also want to provide information to patients via your blog, e-newsletter or in your waiting room.

Peer pressure

It’s common for kids to worry about being the only player on their team wearing a mouthguard but they probably don’t want to be the only player missing a tooth either. If the idea of many future trips to the dentist isn’t enough to convince a kid to use a mouthguard, explain how his or her appearance can change if they don’t. You can ask nicely if they’d rather be teased for wearing a mouthguard or having missing teeth. You can suggest to parents that they speak to their child’s coach or league officials about requiring mouthguards for all appropriate sports.

Mouthguards are uncomfortable

Picking up an old mouthguard at the store is certainly better than wearing nothing at all, but mass-produced mouthguards can offer a poor fit that can be uncomfortable. Safety equipment that is uncomfortable simply doesn’t get used. It’s a good idea to let your patients know that a mouthguard made by a dental professional can be adjusted to offer a comfortable fit.

The benefits of a mouthguard made by a dentist

Compared to the cost of an over-the-counter mouthguard, a mouthguard made by a dentist might seem expensive to your patients. But compared to the cost of emergency trauma treatment, dental implants or jaw surgery, a professionally crafted mouthguard will likely be a great investment.