Protecting Your Teeth While You Play

When you play sports, you're probably focused on the game and not thinking about your teeth. But protecting your teeth should be part of any pregame routine.

"It would be a shame to miss practice or a game because you're in the dentist's office receiving treatment or recovering from a dental surgical procedure," said Dr. Thomas Long, team dentist for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The first item on your sports checklist should be wearing a mouthguard. From contact sports such as hockey or football to more recreational pastimes like rollerblading, mouthguards play a crucial role in keeping your mouth healthy. Mouthguards help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and also help protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, the stock mouthguards and boil-and-bite mouthguards found at most drugstores also do a good job protecting your teeth.

Now you're ready to play, but what happens when the game is over? Do you reach for soda or a sports drink? Trick question! The answer is neither. When it comes to healthy hydration and keeping cavities at bay, water is the only right answer. Sports drinks contain sugar, which can produce acids that weaken the hard outer shell of the teeth, which may increase your risk for cavities over time. Drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities.

For more information about healthy dental habits, visit MouthHealthy.org.

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