Imagine for a few seconds how you would feel and look if you suddenly lost a couple of your front teeth.
How would you smile, talk, and eat?
To prevent unexpected tooth loss and other dental problems, it is crucial to understand how to prevent injuries, especially if you participate in organized sports and other physical activities.
This is where mouth guards come in!
What are Mouth Guards?
Also known as mouth protectors, mouth guards are protective coverings that you can wear over your teeth. They are thin, flexible pieces usually made of soft plastic or laminate to prevent injuries to the mouth, teeth, jaw, tongue, and cheeks. In sports, these devices help cushion a blow to the face to reduce the chances of broken teeth and other injuries.
You must know that when you’re playing a sport or if you get involved in an accident, your front teeth are at a greater risk of injury because they stick out while your bottom teeth are further back and are more protected.
Who Should Wear Mouth Guards
Essentially, mouth guards are a protective, aesthetic gear that can be worn by people of all ages. In fact, it should be a part of your standard equipment from the start.
However, they are most commonly used by people who are at risk of collision and who play contact sports, such as boxing, wrestling, hockey, and football. But since dental injuries can happen in some non-collision sports as well, including skating and gymnastics, mouth guards are often a necessary tool for athletes.
Why Wear Them
If you don’t wear mouth guards while playing contact sports, the following types of injuries can occur:
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Broken teeth
- Lip or cheek injuries
- Fractured crowns or bridgework
- Root damage to the teeth
- Fractured jaws
Mouth guards are basically a great line of defense against all kinds of oral injuries.
A study was conducted on high school athletes to investigate the effectiveness of mouth guards. The results revealed that 75% of injuries occurred when the athletes were not wearing a mouth guard and 40% happened while playing baseball and basketball. Moreover, 9% of all athletes experienced some kind of oral injury while 3% of them lost consciousness. Also, 56% of all concussions reported were experienced when mouth guards were not worn.
Types of Mouth Guards
Typically, there are three types of mouth guards worn by children and adults.
1. Stock Mouth Protectors
Pre-made, stock mouth protectors are inexpensive, ready-to-wear gears available at almost all sports and department stores.
However, a big downside is that they tend to be bulky and uncomfortable. They may not fit in your oral cavity properly and sometimes, even cause breathing and talking difficulties. The level of protection that they offer is also not very high. Hence, dentists usually don’t recommend these types of mouth guards.
2. Boil and Bite Mouth Protectors
Also available at most sports stores, these mouth guards are often a better fit.
The boil and bite mouth protectors are made from thermoplastic material. They need to be placed into hot water for a while to soften them before you put them in your mouth. You need to use your fingers and tongue pressure to shape them around your teeth for a comfortable fit.
3. Custom-fitted Mouth Guards
As suggested by the name, these mouth guards are built while keeping individual needs and comfort in mind. They are usually made in a dentist office or a professional laboratory exactly as per your dentist’s instructions.
First, the dentist makes an impression of your teeth and then uses a special material to mold the mouth guard over it for perfect fitting. Considering the use of special material, the investment of extra time and efforts, and the guarantee of better quality, custom-fitted mouth guards are relatively more expensive than the other types.
Consulting a Dentist for Mouth Guards
If you’re looking for a solution that offers the most protection and comfort, you should consider consulting an experienced dentist to get custom-fitted mouth guards.
While most mouth guards cover only the upper chain of teeth, in some cases, your dentist may make one for your lower teeth as well. This usually happens when you wear braces or any other dental appliance on the lower jaw. Based on your specific needs, your dentist will design mouth guards that are not only comfortable and durable but also easy to clean and tear-resistant. Remember, these gears are only meant to protect you from dental injuries and not cause any breathing or speech issues.
How to Take Care of Your Mouth Guards
You must know how to take care of your mouth guards to ensure they are always clean and in the best condition. They should also be replaced before they wear out because a worn-out mouth guard is only as good as no mouth guards.
Here are a few useful tips for you to take proper care of your mouth guard.
- Use a toothbrush and some toothpaste to gently scrub it after use
- Always keep it in its protective case when not in use
- Avoid chewing on it
- Keep it out from hot water or direct sunlight to prevent melting or deformation
- Replace it if it doesn’t fit properly or feels uncomfortable
- Replace it at the beginning of a new sport session
That being said, following good oral hygiene is critical if you want to keep the teeth behind those mouth guards healthy and clean. So, while your custom-fitted mouth guards work to protect you against dental injuries, don’t forget to brush and floss daily!
For expert consultation and reliable dental services, contact the East Village Dental Clinic TODAY!