If you don’t play hockey or football, you may have never considered wearing a mouthguard. But mouthguards can help protect the mouth and teeth from serious injury during many sports and activities. In fact, almost half of all sports injuries to the mouth happen in baseball and basketball.
Research has shown that most mouth injuries occur when athletes are not wearing a mouthguard. Wearing a mouthguard can help prevent broken teeth, cuts on the lips and tongue, and jaw injuries.
You should wear a mouthguard whenever you are involved in an activity where you may accidentally fall or run into a wall or other players. This includes basketball, soccer, football, karate, softball, baseball, hockey, skateboarding, and gymnastics.
A mouthguard is a flexible piece of plastic that fits into the mouth. There are three basic styles to choose from.
Ready-made or stock. These mouthguards are already formed and ready to wear. Because they are not fitted to the shape of your individual mouth, they may not fit very well. You can purchase these mouthguards at a sports store.
Boil and bite. Also available at sports stores, these mouthguards are softened in hot water and then placed into your mouth for a more individual fit. They usually offer a better and more comfortable fit than the stock mouthguards.
Custom. Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard for you. These mouthguards cost more than the other kinds, but they offer the best fit and the most comfort.
The most important thing to consider in a mouthguard is comfort. Choose a mouthguard that feels comfortable and allows you to talk and breathe with ease. If you wear braces, or other dental appliances, talk with your dentist about the best type of mouthguard for you.
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“Protecting Teeth With Mouthguards.” Journal of the American Dental Association. December 2006, vol. 137, pp. 1772. http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_69.pdfAccessed 2013.
“Treating and Preventing Facial Injury.” American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2005. www.aaoms.org/facial_injury.phpAccessed 2013.
“Policy on Prevention of Sports-Related Orofacial Injuries.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry-2010. www.mychildrensteeth.org/assets/2/7/P_Sports.pdfAccessed 2013.