Knocked out teeth, cracked teeth and facial fractures are common facial traumas treated by dentists and oral surgeons. While many of these injuries are caused by unpredictable accidents, a significant percentage of dental traumas are suffered while participating in sports.
In fact, the link between sports and facial trauma is so strong that it sparked its own field of study—sports dentistry.
Focusing on the prevention of oral athletic injuries and the related oral diseases that stem from these injuries, sports dentistry has introduced many devices and strategies to improve safety and lower risk.
The importance of a mouth guard
The single most valuable piece of protective gear for preventing dental injury is the mouth guard. When shopping for a mouth guard be sure to find one that is comfortable to wear.
As with any type of safety equipment, the more unpleasant it is to use the less diligent you or your children will be about wearing it.
Consider wearing a mouth guard for all active sports and not just those designated as “contact sports.” An errant ball, racquet or other piece of sports equipment poses a real danger and even a sport such as running presents the possibility of taking a spill and hitting your head or face on the ground.
3 types of mouth guard
Familiarize yourself with the 3 different mouth guard options available on the market:
- Shell-lined: Freshly prepared ethyl methacrylate is placed into an athlete’s mouth and then molded over the maxillary teeth and gums. The resulting form is then trimmed and allowed to harden into a resistant shell.
- Boil-and-bite: Thermoplastic is placed in boiling water to soften the material. Once soft, the guard is placed in the mouth and molded with a firm bite.
- Custom-made: Professionally manufactured mouth guards are fabricated from a dental cast of the full upper arch. While custom mouth guards are the most expensive, the investment could be worthwhile for serious athletes. Users report superior comfort.