Here in Colorado, we pride ourselves on our active lifestyle. From winter sports like skiing and snowboarding to summer sports like mountain biking, skateboarding, and more, there is plenty to do in this great state. Thousands more participate in organized sports such as football, basketball, hockey, and much more. Aside from the prescribed protective equipment for each sport (i.e. football helmets for football), there is a valuable protective device that far too few athletes and outdoor enthusiasts use. Even those who participate in sports or activities that don't involve contact can benefit from this device. Today we're talking about athletic mouthguards.
The primary purpose of an athletic or sport mouthguard is to protect against sport-related impacts to the teeth. This is easily illustrated by boxers who wear mouthguards. Without the mouthguard in place, a blow to the mouth could result in missing or damaged teeth. Mouthguards are needed for other sports too, and you don't have to impact another participant in a sport to sustain damage to the teeth either. Sometimes a fall or a collision with the nearby landscape can cause damage as well. The best way to protect against all these injuries is to wear an athletic mouthguard.
When To Use An Athletic Mouthguard
Any contact sport requires an athletic mouthguard, but even sports that discourage contact between the participants can still result in collisions and accidents. A wayward elbow, an accidental trip and even running into a teammate can cause dental injuries in worse case scenarios. Even getting struck by the ball itself can result in an injury depending on the sport. A general list of sports that often require athletic mouthguards include: football, basketball, hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, boxing, rugby, martial arts, baseball, softball, volleyball and wrestling.
It doesn't take an organized sport to necessitate a sport mouthguard. There are plenty of activities that you can engage in alone or with friends that require a mouthguard. Examples include mountain biking (or cycling on the street), skateboarding, rollerskating, and even skydiving.
Often, new athletes or those in need of a mouthguard head straight to the sporting goods store to pick out a sport mouthguard. While these are a good start, this type of mouthguard is generally a one size fits all option. There can be a lot of give and they can slide around when worn in periods of activity. If you're trying out a sport or activity and you're not sure you'll need a mouthguard long term, this is an "OK" temporary option.
Boil And Bite Mouthguards
A custom mouthguard option comes in the "boil and bite" variety where you boil a standard mouthguard and then press your teeth into it to form grooves contoured to your mouth. While it may seem like these are a better bet than a standard mouthguard, the impressions do not provide much more security than the latter variety. Again, this type should be considered a temporary option.
A custom mouthguard that is measured and crafted by a qualified dentist is your best option for quality, long term protection against mouth injuries. You will need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get measured for this type, and they cost more than standard or boil and bite mouthguards, but the investment is well worth it. There will be no sliding or incorrect fit of the mouthguard, which means if you sustain a blow to the mouth, you're more likely to come out with reduced injuries. Your dentist can provide a temporary mouthguard while the permanent mouthguard is being crafted so you can still participate in sports while you wait.
Every athletic mouthguard should be cleaned after it is used. If it isn't cleaned, the mouthguard can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Once you arrive home after using a mouthguard, rinse it off with cold water. Do not use hot water as it can deform the mouthguard. Next, brush it with a toothbrush to remove all particles. If the mouthguard is small, you can use a youth toothbrush to clean every part of the mouthguard thoroughly. After rinsing and brushing, make sure to leave the mouthguard out so it can dry completely. Left wet, bacteria can grow on the mouthguard. Your dentist may also recommend a soaking rinse to keep the mouthguard fresh.
Final Thoughts On Athletic Mouthguards
If you participate in organized sports or activities that may involve contact or a crash with your surroundings, then you need to get an athletic mouthguard! When compared with the costs of replacing teeth or repairing damage, a mouthguard is well worth the investment. Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry can get athletes of all ages fitted for athletic mouthguards in our office, so don't wait, call and schedule an appointment today.
Image one and thumb courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.