With the new school year upon us and the fall sports season beginning, the Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) reminds parents and coaches to require all student athletes to wear mouth guards in order to prevent sports-related dental injuries. Dental injuries are prevalent in all types of sports including contact sports, such as wrestling, as well as non-contact sports, such as gymnastics and skating.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA) a properly fitted mouth guard is the best available protective device against sports-related injuries. Mouth guards, or mouth protectors, prevent injury by minimizing the impact of a blow to the face. This reduces the chance of broken teeth or injuries to the athlete’s lips, tongue, face or jaw.
“The CSDA strongly recommends all athletes wear mouth guards no matter what type of sport they play,” Dr. William Nash, CSDA President said in a press release. “Wearing a properly fitted mouth guard is a quick, cost effective method of preventing injuries that can be expensive to fix or that result in permanent damage to the athlete’s mouth.”
Parents should schedule an appointment with their dentist to ensure their children have a properly fitted, effective mouth guard. Student athletes with braces are at an increased risk for oral injury, so dentists may also recommend a mouth guard for the bottom teeth.
Young athletes playing high contact sports such as football or boxing should also talk to their dentists or orthodontist about wearing a faceguard for more complete protection and additional safely.
According to the CSDA, there are three types of mouth guards available for student athletes:
- Stock mouth protectors are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. They can be purchased at many sporting goods stores. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
- Custom-fitted mouth protectors are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized they can offer a better fit and more protection from injury than anything you can buy off the shelf.
For more information, visit www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouthguards.