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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Is it possible to prevent dental injuries?

Prevention of dental injuries involves aligning protruding front teeth with 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 the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Mouthguards can also reduce the intensity and number of head concussions, as well as 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 1963, 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 or required that a mouthguard be worn for the following sports: football, baseball, basketball, racquetball, soccer, ice hockey, field hockey, 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 usually less expensive than custom-made ones. However, store-bought mouthguards may not fit the athlete's mouth well, become loose, be uncomfortably bulky, and may interfere with speech or breathing. The ideal mouthguards are custom made by a dentist using a mold taken of the athlete's upper dental arch. The custom mouthguard is then fabricated in a lab out of a special plastic that conforms comfortable around the teeth and gums. A well-fitting custom mouthguard should be comfortable and not interfere with breathing and speech.

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