Did you know that more than 5 million teeth are broken or knocked out every year from sports related injuries and up to 40 percent of all sports injuries involve the face. (Source: Study Dentistry UBC) If you or your children participate in sports without a mouth guard, you are 60 times more likely to suffer damage to your mouth.
There is a good reason that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requires mouthguards for four sports (ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football). And the American Dental Association recommends the use of custom mouth guards in 29 sports/exercise activities.
What are Mouth Guards?
As defined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a mouth guard is a “resilient device or appliance placed inside the mouth to reduce oral injuries, particularly to teeth and surrounding structures…. It was constructed to protect the lips and intra-oral tissues from bruising and laceration, to protect the teeth from crown fractures, root fractures, and avulsions (knocked out teeth), to protect the jaw from fracture and dislocations, and to provide support for edentulous space.(Spaces where teeth are missing.) The mouth guard works by absorbing the energy imparted at the site of impact and by dissipating the remaining energy.”
Whew, that’s a mouthful (so to speak). With such an important job description, you want a mouth guard that is up to the task. Unfortunately, many people just buy whatever mouth guard they sell at the sporting good store and think their covered. In fact, there are some really important differences in the kinds of mouth guards that are available.
If cost is your only consideration, think again– The cost to repair a broken or avulsed (knocked-out) tooth and all of the years of follow-up dental treatment can add up to over 20 times that of a mouth guard – lifetime cost per lost tooth can exceed $15,000 – $20,000.
Types of Mouth Guards
Ready-Made or Over the Counter Mouthguards
You can buy these online, or at a variety of different stores. People are often attracted to these because they are inexpensive and so easy to find. But there is no way to customize this kind of mouth guard. The only way to keep it in your mouth is to keep your jaw closed, which can make it pretty tough to talk or breath properly.
These mouth guards offer the least protection of the three types. They are also the least expensive, with prices range approximately from $3 to $25. Because they are often bulky and uncomfortable, in an attempt to make it more comfortable, the athlete will often cut or alter it in some way, which almost always reduces its protective properties.
According to a study done with the Rugby Union, “off-the-shelf” mouth guards are considered inferior when compared with the other available types, and their use is discouraged.
Mouth-formed mouth guards
These are either the popular “boil-and-bite” version or the shell liner kind and are often sold in sporting goods stores. The outer tray/shell is lined with rubber or acrylic. When you put in your mouth, the lining material molds to the teeth and then is allowed to set. With the”boil-and-bite” mouthguard, it is immersed in boiling water for 10-45 seconds and then adapted to the teeth using bite, tongue and fingers.
While they are less expensive (around $30) than custom-made guards, if they are bitten too hard while forming, their protection is reduced. Also, they may not form properly and thus be loose fitting. They don’t offer the same fit and protection as a custom mouth guard.
A custom made mouth guard is made by your dentist specifically for your mouth and teeth. These mouth guards will:
- Be made from precise models of your own teeth, to insure an exact fit and maximum retention, ensuring that they stay in place at the moment of impact.
- Have adequate thickness and will be balanced for your bite to ensure the even distribution of force for maximum protection.
- Are made of strong tear resistant material designed to be long lasting.
- Will be comfortable, easy to clean and will not restrict breathing.
Your Dentist Will Take Your Situation Into Account
Another advantage of custom mouth guards is that your dentist will be able to consult with you before preparing the night guard so that it addresses your specific needs. At Sage Dental Care, our dentists will take the time to ask you important information gathering questions such as:
- What is the particular sport being played? And at what level of competition?
- How old is the athlete? Will we need to provide space for erupting teeth (age 6-12). How often should it be replaced?
- Do you have any history of previous dental injury or concussion, which may require protection in a specific area?
- Is the athlete undergoing orthodontic treatment? A custom fitted mouthguard is particularly important for athletes who wear braces or a bridge. A hit to the face could damage not only the orthodontic appliances but a custom night guard will provide the best protection for your cheek or lips as well.
Custom-fitted mouth guards cost between $190 and $500. Most dental insurance plans generally do not cover the cost of mouth guards. Check with your dental insurance company to determine your level of coverage.
How To Take Care of Your Mouth Guard
- Always wear your mouth guard during practice and games.
- Before and after each use, check your mouth guard for damage.
- Brush and floss your teeth before wearing your mouth guard
- Rinse it with cold water or better yet, an anti microbial mouth guard cleaner
- Frequently clean your guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store it in the container provided, which should also be frequently cleaned with soapy water.
- Avoid placing it in direct sunlight high temperatures.
- Get a dental check up before playing season starts and bring your mouth guard so your dentist can check the fit and for any wear or other issues
Remember that there is a big difference between a night guard and a sports mouth guard. Dental night guards are to protect for grinding at night and are made from much harder plastic. See this blog to find out if you or your child might need this kind of guard as well.
A mouth guard is a very wise investment in your oral health if you play sports and should be part of every athletes gear. Accidents happen. It doesn’t take much force to cause a lot of damage your mouth and your teeth. So if you play sports, protect your smile and wear a mouth guard.
Call us today to schedule your free consultation for a mouth guard.
Sage Dental, Your Lafayette Colorado Dentist.
Serving the Lafayette Colorado community, including the surrounding areas of Longmont and Louisville.