Athletic Mouthguards

Athletic Mouthguards: How Much is Your Smile Worth?
Posted on 10/09/2019
By Piper Reasoner
Head Athletic Trainer, Legend High School 

Dental health and adequate dental protection tends to take a back seat for our athletes until they experience a dental trauma. Recent cost data estimates that the lifetime cost to replace a single tooth ranges from US $20,000-$35,000 when accounting for all direct and indirect costs and may require an average of 7.2 hours of treatment time in the first year.

We have created a FAQ to help educate our stakeholders on the importance of reducing the physical, mental and financial burden of dental trauma.

Do I really need a mouthguard?

 Consider these facts:
  • According to a 2015 study in the journal Sports Health, $500 million is spent replacing and repairing the more than five million teeth that are injured or knocked out each year through sports injury, accident, or play.

  • According to a study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 30% of children experience dental injury by age 14.

  • Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer damage to the mouth when not wearing a mouthguard, according to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation.

  • Mouthguard use prevents approximately 200,000 orofacial injuries each year.

  • The cost to repair a knocked-out tooth and follow-up dental treatment can cost thousands of dollars—many times greater than the price of a mouthguard.

Which sports require the use of a mouthguard?

The American Dental Association (ADA) advocates for a properly fitted mouthguard in the following sports:
  • Contact/Collision Sports: Basketball, Boxing, Football, Handball, Hockey (Ice and Field), Lacrosse, Martial Arts, Rugby, Soccer, Water Polo, Wrestling

  • Limited-Contact and Other Sports: Cheerleading, Baseball, Bicycling, Equestrian Events, Field Events, Gymnastics, In-Line Skating, Racquetball, Shot Put, Skateboarding, Skiing, Skydiving, Softball, Squash, Surfing, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Extreme Sports

What kind of mouthguard is best?

 The ideal mouthguard should:
  • Be properly fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to his or her oral structures

  • Be made of resilient material approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and cover all remaining teeth on one arch, customarily the maxillary

  • Stay in place comfortably and securely

  • Be physiologically compatible with the wearer

  • Be relatively easy to clean

  • Have high-impact energy absorption and reduce transmitted forces upon impact.

What are the different kinds of mouthguards out there?

 There are three types of mouthguards:
  • Stock: You can buy these preformed mouthguards at many sporting goods stores or drugstores. They are inexpensive and come ready to wear right out of the package. Unfortunately, because they are “one size fits all,” they may be bulky and might make breathing and talking more difficult.

  • Boil-and-bite: These mouthguards also can be bought at sporting goods stores and drugstores. You first put the mouthguard in hot water, then bite down and allow it to form to the shape of your mouth. If the athlete bites too hard or far into the material, there may not be enough material necessary to protect the teeth.

  • Custom-made: These mouthguards are made by your dentist just for you. Because they are individually made, with a personalized fit, they are likely the most comfortable option, though they are more expensive than the other types.

How do I choose a mouthguard?

When looking for a mouthguard, you might consider several factors:
  • Is your dentition changing? Do you still have primary teeth? Are you waiting for permanent teeth to erupt to fill in your smile?

  • What sport(s) are you playing? At what level? Are you tossing the ball around with friends or will you be playing in a competitive league?

  • Have you had any special dental treatment, such as placement of crowns or braces, that might require additional protection?

But what if I have braces?

 A properly fitted mouthguard is especially important for those athletes who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheeks or lips, limiting the risk of soft-tissue injuries. Although mouthguards typically cover only the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend that you wear a mouthguard on your bottom teeth if you have braces on your lower teeth. And, remember, do not wear a retainer or other removable appliances while participating in any contact sport.

How do I handle and care for a mouthguards?
  • Like other sports equipment, mouthguards can wear out, deteriorate, or become lost over time. After each use, clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. Store and carry the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents so it can dry, which will help keep bacteria from growing.

  • Check the condition of the mouthguard from time to time to see if it needs replacement. Tears and perforations can irritate the teeth and mouth tissues. These conditions also diminish the amount of protection the mouthguard can provide on the playing field.

As athletes grow, changes in tooth position and jaw size will also require changes in the mouthguard. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly to have the fit of your mouthguard checked.

How much is your smile worth?? We think it’s priceless!
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