Being active in sports offers numerous benefits to people of all ages. College students, teenagers and children, in particular, are likely to be on a school athletic team. For these groups, organized sports help teach such valuable skills as working together to achieve a common goal, as well as building self-confidence, coordination, strength and stamina. School sports notwithstanding, many adults enjoy recreational sports — or may be on a non-professional team.
Whatever the situation, however, the risk of injury is a very real downside — especially injuries to the mouth. As the American Dental Association (ADA) points out, participating in athletic and recreational activities – particularly collision, contact or high-velocity sports – can place individuals at increased risk of dental trauma or orofacial injury.
Because our all-star NK Family Dental team would rather you or your child don’t need to visit us for an emergency — such as a knocked-out tooth — we offer the following six reasons why a properly fitting mouthguard is the most important piece of sports equipment you can own!
Benefits of Wearing a Mouthguard for Contact Sports
1. Reduces the impact of the blow
A mouthguard absorbs shock while limiting the jaw’s movement. If the sport requires wearing a helmet, a mouthguard complements its effectiveness.
2. Reduces the risk of brain injuries
Recent studies have shown that the ability of a mouthguard to help absorb and reduce the shock of a blow to the lower face may be a factor in reducing the risk of concussion. However, a mouthguard alone will not be able to protect against a severe impact.
3. Reduces the risk of injuries to the lower jaw and neck
Wearing a mouthguard has been proven to help prevent jaw fractures and related neck injuries.
4. Prevents or minimize injuries to the teeth and damage to dental restorations
This is perhaps the benefit that most people associate with wearing a mouthguard. According to Wellesley Dental Arts, broken, chipped, cracked, fractured or knocked-out teeth are the major dental injuries sustained during sports. Teeth can also be dislocated or loosened, fillings dislodged and crowns or bridges cracked.
It is important to be aware that a cracked tooth isn’t always visible to the unaided eye and may not cause pain. In such a case, this type of injury often isn’t detected until a dental examination – which is all the more reason to schedule regular checkups for yourself and your child! According to Colgate, a fractured root and tooth intrusion (a condition in which a tooth is driven deeper into the jawbone) are other common dental injuries.
5. Protects the inside soft tissues of the mouth from injuries
Protecting your teeth and dental work with a mouthguard serves to prevent damage to other parts of your mouth, such as the lips, gums, tongue and inside of the cheeks.
6. Reduces the risk of gum injuries for those who wear braces
According to MouthHealthy — a consumer-oriented website presented by the ADA — a properly fitted mouthguard can be especially important for people who wear braces. “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 cheek or lips, which will help you avoid injuries to your gums and cheeks.”
In addition to the pain involved, repairing braces is expensive and time-consuming – so it’s better to prevent the need for doing so by wearing a mouthguard (or making sure your child wears one)!
Three Types of Sports Mouthguards
Three types of sports mouthguards for adults and children are available. As Wesley Dental Arts notes, mouthguards for children must be replaced as they grow. “Mouthguards wear out or weaken with time, which can compromise protection. Therefore, mouthguards must be replaced after some time to ensure maximum protection.”
Ready-made (stock) — This is the least expensive and most readily available type. However, they are manufactured in a limited range of sizes, prefabricated without adaptation to the user’s mouth and require the mouth to be shut to keep the device in place. The ADA considers it the least effective mouthguard type due to its generic design, improper fit and inadequate retention (with frequent repositioning needed) during sporting activities. They also can make breathing and talking difficult —which can significantly affect performance during sports.
Boil-and-bite — These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the best possible fit and durability. Immediately replace it when the mouthguard begins to show signs of wear. If you choose this type, look for a brand that has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Custom-made — This type is made specifically for you from an impression taken by your dentist, then fabricated in a dental laboratory or dental office. It is the most expensive mouthguard type because it’s individually created for fit and comfort. NK Family Dental is proud to offer mouthguards custom-made for both adults and children. Our mouthguards are fabricated using top-quality materials, and their lightweight design prevents them from interfering with the user’s breathing and speaking. This makes them ideal for virtually any athletic situation.
You’re Always a Winner when You Protect Your Teeth – and the Teeth of Your Child
As the old adage goes, “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Using a mouthguard — preferably a custom-made mouthguard provided by your dentist — will always make you (or your child) a winner, regardless of the final score! The investment in protection against dental trauma or orofacial injury is well worth it for a healthy smile that can last a lifetime!
At NK Family Dental, it is our mission to provide the highest quality and most compassionate oral care to our Chicago patients, including both dental and periodontal services. Our practice is trusted for advanced oral surgery procedures and comfortable root canal treatment.
Our team of experienced, dedicated dental professionals will help address your oral health concerns, and determine the best solution for you based on your individual situation. We strive to identify treatment options that fit your needs. For example, we provide custom-made mouth guards for bruxism, as well as sports mouth guards to protect teeth during athletic activities.
Our dental specialists include our general dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan, our endodontist, Dr. Sabek, and our periodontist, Dr. Amir Danesh. Dr. Danesh is a board-certified periodontist and Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology. He has contributed to the publication of two books, as well as published over 20 papers in prestigious dental research journals.
We understand that the main concern you may have is cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information.