When you're shopping for helmets and kneepads before the start of the sports season, don't forget another, often-neglected type of protective gear: a custom-designed mouth guard. For athletes of all ages, a mouth guard is an essential item when it comes to preventing tooth damage and other injuries in and around the mouth.
Importance of Mouth Guards
Whether a sport involves rough contact, light contact, or no contact at all, it has the potential to put athletes at risk for broken teeth and oral injuries. A mouth guard shields not only your upper teeth, but also the surrounding gums and soft tissues. In fact, the American Dental Association reports that athletes who play sports with a mouth guard are 60 times less likely to damage their teeth than those who play without one.
Types of Mouth Guards
Many stores offer standard mouth guards, as well as "boil and bite" guards that provide a more tailored fit than their standard counterparts. However, for the very best fit for your athlete, a custom-designed mouth guard is almost always the way to go. These mouth guards are made by dentists and, although pricier than other types of guards, they are the most effective at preventing injuries.
If you have braces or any other special considerations, talk to your dentist about the best options for protecting your teeth while you play sports. After you purchase a custom mouth guard, make sure to rinse it off thoroughly between uses and wash it with soap and water at regular intervals.