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Mouth Guards: A Preventive Necessity

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Field Hockey Athlete

It’s fall, and for many that season is synonymous with one of America’s favorite pastimes—football and other fall sports.   For dentists, however, sports seasons mean more than just entertainment.  It also means higher potential for dental injury in their patients.  Many of us are familiar with the typical athletic mouth guards, but have we given much thought as to why they are worn?  And to how successful they are in actually preventing dental injury, both in football and in other sports?

One Size Does NOT Fit All

An over-the-counter appliance won’t fit everyone or be very comfortable.  Mouth guards should be specifically prescribed by a dentist and designed according to variables like “age of the patient, sport being played, level of competition, and previous history of injury” (drbicuspid.com).  All athletes should consult a dentist prior to engaging in any sport from football to weight lifting.  Protruding teeth are a dangerous dental risk, as a large majority of those teeth are hit, broken, fractured and even knocked out from trauma to the head and neck area.

Where You Should Get Your Athletic Mouth Guard

There is great potential for facial and dental injury in most sports, even in those with fewer players.  Mouth guards can protect against several possible injuries, including concussion, neck injury, teeth and TMJ, and lip and soft tissue lacerations.  Even more seriously, a strong blow to the mandible (or lower jaw) can even cause a brain injury.  Not something to be taken lightly and definitely not an issue to be trusted to a random piece of plastic bought over the counter without a professional’s advice.  In many cases the fabrication of a custom-fit pressure-laminated mouth guard may be the best method of prevention for any athlete, and is an appliance that can only be obtained through proper molding and fitting at your dentist’s office.

See Your Dentist BEFORE Beginning a Sport

In addition to obtaining a custom mouth guard, every athlete should visit their dentist’s office to have a full dental scan performed prior to beginning any sport.  This will ensure your dentist has the most up-to-date images and records of your mouth and bite patterns so as to make an accurate assessment should any sports-related dental injury occur.