Delta Dental News Room


Athletes Must Guard Against Injuries

Inexpensive mouthguards can prevent dental disasters


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Oak Brook, Ill. (July, 2009) - A hockey puck in competitive play can reach speeds of 120 mph, and exert 1,250 pounds of force when it makes contact. Other sources of sports injuries, such as a point guard's flying elbow and a softball pitch, may not move quite as fast, but the results on an unprotected mouth are the same.

It's a story all too common. According to the American Dental Association, sports-related injuries knock out two million teeth per year.

And the risk isn't just in full-contact sports. Mouth injuries in football, for example, have dropped dramatically since mouthguards became mandatory. Studies show that today's basketball players are 15 times more likely to sustain an orofacial injury than football players.1 Even sports with no inherent player contact, like biking and gymnastics, introduce the risk of injury from falls and mouth-clenching.

The solution is to wear an athletic mouthguard. An athlete wearing a properly fitted mouthguard is 60 times less likely to suffer tooth damage than an athlete without a mouthguard.2

"Mouthguards have been proven to work," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "Wearing a mouthguard while participating in sports-or any activity that carries a risk of mouth injury-may protect you from what could otherwise be severe dental damage."

There are three types of mouthguards currently available:

Still, if cost is a consideration, any mouthguard is better than none at all.

"If you have questions, such as mouthguard use with braces or other dental appliances, talk to the expert-your dentist," Anderson said.

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1Academy of General Dentistry, "Mouthguards Fight 'Weekend Warrior' Syndrome", February 2007.

2American Dental Association, "Protecting teeth with mouthguards", 2006.