Damaged teeth have the potential to lead to a host of other health problems.
If you’re in danger of getting a dental injury through high-impact sports and don’t use any protection, you’re potentially leaving yourself open to painful and costly dental work in the long run.
Good quality sports mouthguards can minimise the risk of your teeth getting chipped, broken, or even dislodged completely. But with a huge variety of options out there, choosing the right mouthguard is important. You want to make sure you’re getting adequate protection as well as comfort. Read on to find out why you should get a mouthguard, what they can help you with, and the different options that are available to you.
What does a mouthguard do?
A mouthguard provides a defensive wall to keep your teeth, soft tissue, and jaw safe. If you experience a traumatic blow to your jaw area, a mouthguard helps to dissipate the force over a larger surface area, as well as absorbing some of the energy.
Sometimes a traumatic blow will force your teeth and dental work against your lips or cheeks, which can end in painful tears and lacerations. By keeping soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, mouth guards help prevent cutting and bruising of the lips, tongue and cheeks, especially for athletes who wear orthodontic appliances.
A sports mouthguard can protect you by:
- Cushioning your teeth against impact
- Protecting against jaw joint and soft tissue injuries
- Preventing neck and jaw injuries
- Reducing concussion
When should I wear a mouthguard?
Accidents that happen while participating in sports are one of the biggest causes of dental injury, especially in children. Chipped teeth, knocked out teeth, and jaw injuries are just some of the problems that can be avoided by using a mouthguard.
Braces or fixed bridges can seriously damage your soft tissue in the event of a sports injury. Speak to a qualified dentist for a sporting mouthguard designed to work as barrier between the delicate tissue on the inside of your mouth and the hard braces.
Whenever there’s a chance that your jaw might come into contact with other players, hard surfaces, or sports equipment, you should be wearing a mouthguard for protection.
What should I look for in a mouthguard?
A good quality mouthguard is one that allows you to speak and breathe easily, stays in place throughout the action, is comfortable and fits well, is easy to keep clean, is tear resistant and is tasteless. You want to make sure your mouthguard has all these elements to make sure you’ve got the best possible protection with comfort.
A mouthguard with a good fit is especially important if you wear braces, have fixed anterior bridgework or just want the best chance of protection from your teeth being exposed to potential trauma.
The Australian Dental Association recommends using custom-fitted mouthguards to protect your teeth during sports or extreme activities. The ideal mouthguard is one that has been fitted and custom-made for your mouth. The better your mouthguard fits, the better coverage and protection it gives you.
Custom mouthguards are fitted by a dentist using an impression of your teeth and a plaster model. Your dentist can also take into account the specific risks that might be associated with your sport and provide extra support and cushioning in these areas. You can be sure that you are getting the optimum protection for your teeth and jaw.
Custom mouthguards need to be regularly checked (once every year) to make sure they still fit correctly and are giving your teeth maximum protection. Any damage can cause you to experience pain and discomfort and the mouthguard will be less able to absorb any impact to your face.
Over the Counter
Over the counter mouthguards are often available at pharmacies and sports equipment stores. They are usually cheaper than custom-fitted mouthguards and are either made by biting down on a softened mould and letting it cool and set, or are bought in a fixed one-size-fits-all style.
While over the counter mouthguards are certainly better than not using any protection at all, we don’t recommend them for long term use. They won’t protect your teeth and jaw as well as a custom mouthguard will. They’re also often uncomfortable to wear and might cause you to have difficulty breathing or speaking.
To avoid pain and discomfort from sporting injuries, purchasing a custom-fitted mouthguard is your best option. Come and speak to one of the friendly, qualified dentists at Smilecare Dental in Adelaide for a discussion on how best to protect your teeth from damage.
If this blog has come a little late, and you’ve already experienced a sports-related dental injury, be sure to make an appointment with our emergency dentists in Adelaide straight away. Check out our blog on looking after knocked out or chipped teeth in the meantime.