Over the years, you put plenty of time and expense into your smile, whether you’ve merely gone for your regular checkups, or had additional work, including braces, whitening, veneers, or crowns. When you’re also involved in a sport, it makes sense to protect your investment. After all, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime.
Damaged teeth are one of the most common sports injuries, and they also add up to one of the most expensive sports injuries. About 10% of the 45 million children who play organized sports in the United States will suffer an injury that affects their mouth.
Dental fees to fix such damage are estimated to be 20 times greater than the cost of a top-of-the-line custom sports mouthguard. In fact, mouthguards are mandatory in many sports.
The function of a sports mouthguard
The speed of many sports creates unexpected and sudden movements, impacts, and falls. Any of these could cause your bottom jaw to slam up against the upper jaw, bringing teeth into hard contact with each other. The plastic barrier of a mouthguard cushions this contact, while also spreading out the force of an impact from the front or side, as from a ball, stick, puck, or body contact with another player.
Mouthguards cover the teeth and gums, so the energy from an impact is spread over a wide area. Without a guard, the transfer of force happens in a smaller area. If that happens to be directly over a few teeth, chances of chipping, cracking or even dislodging increase substantially.
Types of mouthguards
Three types of mouthguards are commonly available, each with its own cost/protection ratio.
- Stock mouthguards: The least expensive and least protective, these come in standard sizes, and they depend on the player clenching their teeth to stay in place
- “Boil-and-bite” mouthguards: The middle option, these are off-the-shelf purchases like stock guards, but after they’re warmed in hot water, they can be worn by the player until they cool, forming an approximate custom fit
- Custom mouthguards: Formed and fitted by a dentist, this type of mouthpiece provides the best protection and longest life, as well as the best fit
Sports that benefit from mouthguards
Some sports organizations require mouthguards as a condition of participation. Such requirements are recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations for football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling in some cases. Other sports may have mouthguard mandates at the local level, but it’s not always the case.
The American Dental Association recommends mouthguards for these sports:
- Baseball and softball
- Equestrian riding
- Field and ice hockey
- Inline skating
- Martial arts
- Track and field
- Water polo
Whether you or your child is the athlete, everyone is likely to benefit from the added protection of a custom sports mouthguard. While this may add upfront to sports participation costs, a mouthguard can keep you in the game as well as preventing pain, lost time, and expense due to injury.
Contact Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates by phone or use the online Free Consult tool to learn more about custom sports mouthguard fittings.