Protecting teeth with mouthguards
When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of an athlete’s standard equipment from an early age.
Mouthguards help buffer an impact or blow that otherwise could cause broken teeth, jaw injuries or cuts to the lip, tongue or face. Mouthguards also may reduce the rate and severity of concussions. An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.
Choose a mouthguard that:
- is resilient and tear-resistant;
- fits properly and is comfortable;
- is easy to clean;
- does not restrict speech or breathing.
Your dentist can make a custom mouthguard for you or your child that is comfortable and offers superior protection. Because treating a sports-related dental injury can cost thousands of dollars, a custom mouthguard is a worthwhile investment. While custom mouthguards are considered by many to be the most protective option, patients for whom a custom mouthguard is not feasible (for example, because of cost) should discuss other types of mouthguards with their dentist.
To get the best service from a mouthguard, you should rinse it before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste, and occasionally clean the it in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. You should also:
- not wear removable appliances, such as retainers, with a mouthguard;
- wear a custom-fitted mouthguard if you wear braces or have a protruding jaw, receding chin or cleft palate;
- not chew on or cut pieces off your mouthguard;
- wear the mouthguard during practice sessions as well as during games;
- schedule regular dental checkups and visit your dentist before each playing season;
- bring your mouthguard to each dental visit.
For more information, visit the American Dental Association Web site at "www.ada.org".
Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.
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