Why use a mouth guard?
When I was growing up in my little town , sports were always an interest. We had a little league team every year and I got to pitch. We were at practice one day and the coach was hitting fly balls for us to practice catching. I will never forget that one high fly ball that got one of my teammates right in the kisser.
He and two other kids were all trying to catch it. (one of the things the coach was trying to teach us was to call out who was going to get the ball. We weren’t so good at that!) With the other two players mitts in the way the ball missed his mitt as well, and hit him right in the mouth. He didn’t seem to lose consciousness to us, but he didn’t remember what happened for some time afterwards. Long enough to walk home and not remember how he got there.
Results from not wearing a mouth guard:
I was impressed with two things: How much the upper lip bled when it was cut, and how his front top tooth looked with a part of the chewing surface broken off! There was not an easy fix for that type of tooth fracture back in the 1960’s, so he looked that way all through high school.
Since then I have played on various sports teams. I have seen cusps broken off that needed crowns later. I have seen teeth pushed out of line and needed root canal therapy to fix. And if a tooth moves out of its position, almost always there is some jaw bone that held the teeth that has fractured as well.
The point is sports can be hard on teeth, lips, and jaw joints. To try to help prevent that, contact sports often include rules that mouth guards be used. But how effective are these mouth guards? There are a few types to pick from. Some are better than others.
These mouth guards are the kind you would get in a sporting goods store. They usually have a horseshoe shaped piece of pliable material that just fits in between the top and bottom teeth. These are certainly better than nothing, but do not support the teeth adequately to prevent some injuries. Some include a strap that sticks out that can be attached to a face mask of a helmet.
This type of mouth guard has a plastic that can be shaped when heated. It is placed in boiling water or a microwave oven until pliable, then placed in the mouth and formed to the teeth as best you can until it cools off and holds its shape.
These mouth guards are made on a model taken in the dental office, then fit in the mouth to match the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. They fit much more snugly. The material is thicker, giving more support. Each tooth is going to stay in position because it can’t move out of that position. The margins extend over the gum slightly, so all the force does not go directly onto the teeth. Since they are contoured to the shape of the teeth better, and are not loose fitting, speech sounds more natural. They can also be customized to include the athlete’s name, and can have a team logo built into the design that really intimidates opposing players!
This blog is likely targeting parents more than youth. But with school starting soon and some kids planning to be on sports teams, it is that time of year to consider how important it is to protect your child’s dentition. If you are interested in a better than over the counter mouth guard, Valley of the Sun Dentistry can help. Call us at 602-942-4260 or Request An Appointment
This is who trained me, one of the best continuing education courses I have taken: https://www.drraypadilla.com/services/sports-dentistry/mouthguards/
This is what the American Dental Association thinks: https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/mouthguards