Today most adults recognize that leading a healthy, active lifestyle is a big plus. Moderate exercise has been shown to help lower blood pressure, keep cholesterol levels under control, and even reduce feelings of anxiety or depression. To stay active, some 150 million adults in the United States get involved in sports or physical recreation every year. And every year, some of those active folks wind up being treated for sports-related dental injuries.
Who is apt to suffer this kind of injury? Men are more likely than women, but only by a few percentage points. For both sexes, the injury rate falls off rapidly after the teen years — although older athletes tend to have more severe problems. But if you thought that contact sports like football and hockey produced the greatest number of injuries…then it’s time to think again: Adult males are far more likely to be injured playing basketball!
Baseball, bicycling, handball, skiing, surfing, and equestrian sports — plus some two dozen others — are activities that the American Dental Association (ADA) has identified as potential causes of dental injury in adults.
Don’t get us wrong: There’s no question that the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of being hurt. But when a serious dental injury occurs, it can result in pain, time is taken away from work or the family, and high treatment costs — which often aren’t covered by insurance. If you had a piece of equipment, endorsed by the ADA, which could reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury by 60 times… would you use it?
A high-quality, custom-made mouthguard should be part of every athlete’s equipment. What’s a mouthguard? It’s a small protective device that fits over your teeth and absorbs the force of an impact, helping to protect the mouth from damage. There are different kinds of mouthguards, available from various sources. They include:
“Off-the-shelf” types. Found in some sports retailers and big-box stores, these inexpensive guards come in S-M-L sizes and are generally worn by clenching them between the teeth. They are probably better than nothing if you don’t mind wearing them—but they can be uncomfortable, and are of uncertain quality.
“Boil and bite” guards. This type of mouthguard is meant to be softened by heat and then molded into shape by fingers, teeth, and tongue. It’s a better choice than the first kind, but there can be wide variation in how much mouth coverage these guards provide—and in their effectiveness.
The custom-fabricated mouthguard. This is the one that’s made just for you: First, a model of your teeth is prepared, and then is individually fabricated into a piece of protective gear for a perfect fit. It’s strong, lightweight and comfortable — which means you can wear it comfortably. Because, after all, if you don’t wear it, it doesn’t help.
Custom-made mouthguards are an indispensable piece of equipment — especially when they could save you the inconvenience (and potentially much higher cost) of restoring or replacing teeth. So, if you’re the active type, consider having a custom mouthguard made for you. It’s the best way to prevent a dental injury from spoiling your game.
Kids who take part in athletic activities — whether they’re playing on organized sports teams, bicycling, or just kicking a ball around — gain a host of well-documented health benefits. Yet inevitably, along with all the fun, the sense of achievement, and the character-building features of athletics, the possibility of injury exists. Does this mean your kids shouldn’t play sports? Of course not! But it makes sense to learn about the risks involved and to take appropriate precautions.
How prevalent are sports-related dental injuries in children? In 2012, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation forecast that more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events that year! Among all the dental injuries we treat in children, it is estimated that over 25% are sports-related, and the majority of these involve the top front teeth.
Besides the immediate trauma, sports-related injuries can result in time lost from school and work, and substantial cost — up to $20,000 over a lifetime to treat a missing permanent tooth. Yet there’s a simple and relatively inexpensive way to reduce the chance of dental injury in children: A properly-fitted, comfortable mouthguard, worn whenever playing sports where the possibility of orofacial injury exists.
You wouldn’t let your child play football without a helmet and protective padding, right? Yet it might surprise you to know that kids playing basketball are 15 times more likely to sustain injuries to the mouth or face than football players! Mandatory mouthguards are one reason for that: More American kids wear mouth protection for football than any other sport, which has resulted in a dramatic drop in injuries.
Mouthguards are required in only four school-based sports: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey. Yet basketball and baseball are associated with the largest number of dental injuries. Other sports for which the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends wearing a mouthguard include bicycling, soccer, skateboarding, wrestling and volleyball. Do mouthguards work? The ADA estimates that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to suffer dental injury than those who do.
The best mouthguard for your child is the one he or she actually wears, both at practice and on game day. There are several different types of mouthguards on the market, which generally fall into three categories:
An “off-the-shelf” mouthguard. Available at many sporting goods stores, this type comes in a limited range of sizes and varies widely in quality. The least expensive option, it offers a minimal level of protection that’s probably better than nothing. It generally must be clenched in the mouth, which can make wearing it uncomfortable and cause trouble breathing and speaking.+
The “boil and bite” mouthguard. These are designed to be immersed in hot water, and then formed in the mouth using finger, tongue and bite pressure. When they can be made to fit adequately, they generally offer better protection than the first type—but they may still be uncomfortable, and usually fail to offer full coverage of the teeth.
A custom-made mouthguard. This is a piece of quality sports equipment that is custom fabricated for your child’s mouth. How? Molds or impressions of your child’s teeth will be made and then tough, resilient, high-quality materials are perfectly fitted to that impression. This type of mouthguard offers your child maximum protection and a superior level of comfort — and its cost is quite reasonable.
At the present time, when top-quality sports equipment for kids can run in the hundreds of dollars, it makes more sense than ever to invest in the proven protection of a professionally made, custom-fitted mouthguard.