Dental Injuries - Mouthguards and Prevention

Do you or your child wear a mouthguard while participating in sports? What other ways do you try to prevent dental injuries?

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Prevention of dental injuries

Prevention of dental injuries involves aligning protruding front teeth by dental braces and using face masks and mouthguards while participating in sports. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce trauma not only to teeth, gums, and the surrounding jaw bone but also to reduce injury to the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and to reduce the intensity and number of head concussions. Mouthguards also reduce pressure and bone deformation of the skull when a force is directed to the chin.

Before the mandatory use of face masks and mouthguards for high school and college football players in l963, 50% of all football injuries involved the face and the mouth. Since the mandatory use of these protective devices, dental injuries in football players have almost been eliminated. It is now recommended that mouthguards be worn, not only for organized football, but also for unorganized football, baseball, basketball, racquetball, soccer, ice, field, and street hockey, wrestling, boxing, martial arts, volleyball, rollerblading, skating, skateboarding, and bicycling.

Mouthguards can be purchased in pharmacies and sports supply stores and molded at home. They can also be custom made by the dentist. Store-bought mouthguards are less expensive than custom-made ones. However, the store-bought ones may not fit the athlete's mouth, may become loose, may be uncomfortably bulky, and may interfere with speech or breathing. The ideal mouthguards are custom made by a dentist. An impression is made of the athlete's upper dental arch to make a mold of his/her teeth and gums. A custom mouthguard made of a vinyl acetate ethylene copolymer (a special plastic) is then fabricated from this mold in the dental office or by a dental laboratory. A well-fitting custom mouthguard is comfortable and will not interfere with breathing and speech.

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