Why Do You Need a Mouth Guard?

With springtime comes warmer weather and a new sports season. When you're making sure that your kids have all their equipment necessary to participate in their new sports, there is one major piece of equipment that should come first to mind: a sports mouth guard. You may be wondering why you need a mouth guard, but the statistics back up the importance of wearing one. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented each year by wearing a mouth guard. This should be a major argument for why you need a mouth guard while playing a sport.

The Importance of a Mouth Guard

Dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury in sports. According to the ADA, an American Association of Orthodontists survey found that 84 percent of children do not wear mouth guards while playing organized sports because they are not required to wear them. Although other protective materials, such as goggles, helmets, shoulder pads or shin guards are required in order to participate, mouth guards sometimes are not. But not only do mouth guards save teeth; they help protect the jaw as well.

All young athletes would benefit from wearing a protective mouth guard. Sports such as football, wrestling, soccer, basketball and lacrosse — to name a few — pose a high risk of injury to the mouth and jaw. The chances of a sports-related injury to the mouth and jaw are minimized by wearing a mouth guard, which best explains why you need one. Athletic mouth guards are thin, flexible pieces of plastic that are placed in the mouth and over the teeth to protect oral structures during any sports activity.

Types of Mouth Guards

There are three types of mouth guards, as detailed by WebMD. Stock and boil-and-bite mouth guards are usually found in most sporting goods stores. Athletic mouth guards can vary in comfort and cost. A custom-made mouth guard fabricated by a dentist or orthodontist is considered by many to be the most protective option. The most effective mouth guard is resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable, be easy to clean and should not restrict speech or breathing. Generally, a mouth guard covers only the upper teeth.

Taking Care of Your Mouth Guard

A mouth guard must be taken care of and cleaned properly like any other appliance that is utilized to help your teeth. It should also be replaced once it becomes worn out because it will no longer offer optimal protection.

Here are some tips on how to keep your mouth guard clean and in good condition:

  • Gently scrub it after each use with a toothbrush and some toothpaste.
  • Store it in its protective case.
  • To prevent it from melting or becoming deformed, keep it out of hot water or the sun.
  • Avoid chewing on it.
  • Replace it if it doesn't fit properly and at the beginning of a new sports season.

Of course, you want a healthy set of teeth behind the mouth guard, and proper oral hygiene is of the utmost importance in keeping that healthy smile. Use floss daily, and make sure to brush twice a day for optimal dental health. Colgate Total® Advanced toothpaste can help to protect against plaque and keep gingivitis from developing. Establishing proper oral hygiene habits can ensure a healthy, clean mouth that is worth protecting.

If your children play sports, make sure that their chance of suffering a dental injury is greatly reduced. The ultimate protection comes from wearing a mouth guard, which is one of the least expensive pieces of protective athletic equipment available. Before your kids run out onto the field, have them pop their mouth guard in. After all, being safe and having fun should be the goal of every athlete in any sport!

About the author: Diana Tosuni-O'Neill is a licensed registered dental hygienist in New York and New Jersey with over 25 years of clinical experience in dental hygiene practice. She was employed for over 15 years with the team dentist for the sports teams of the New York Giants, the Brooklyn Nets and the New Jersey Devils. Diana is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and a Group Fitness Instructor. Her passion for the dental and fitness fields spans over two decades. She is also a freelance writer specializing in oral health care. She has won an award for Excellent Customer Service from National Wholesale Company. She enjoys traveling, gardening, decorating and her fitness workouts. Diana presently resides outside Manhattan with her two children.