Spring Sports are fast approaching and with that I would like to remind you the importance of protecting your teeth from moving balls or body parts. When most people hear the word “mouthguard” they think of playing childhood sports which is when they are worn most often, but should also be worn as an adult if playing sports or doing any heavy weight lifting. Mouthguards are protective devices that cover the teeth and gums to reduce the risk of injury to your teeth, gums, and lips from trauma. Guards are designed to cover your upper teeth and take the brunt of the trauma.
I strongly recommend that everyone who participates in contact sports, as well as noncontact sports (such as gymnastics, weight lifting, skateboarding, skating, and mountain biking) wear one, even if it is not mandated by the league or club. If you have braces, or any type of permanent dental restorations I encourage you to protect those investments with a mouthguard. If you lift heavy weights I recommend protecting your teeth with a guard, as you clench down hard while lifting and over time that can cause trauma to your teeth. I know guards can be bulky and uncomfortable sometimes but it’s worth it to help protect your smile.
There are three common types of guards available; Custom-made, Boil and Bite, and Stock. The best type of guard is one that is customized to your mouth and made by a dentist. The Boil and Bite guards are made out of a thermoplastic material and usually can be found at most sporting goods stores. This type of guard is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in your mouth and shaped around the teeth, using finger and tongue pressure to mold it, be sure to follow manufactures instructions. The Boil and Bite guards offer a much better fit than stock guards. Stock guards are also available at sporting goods and department stores but are not recommended by dentists except for those who have braces. They are generally bulky as the fit cannot be adjusted, which makes breathing more difficult, and they provide less protection. In general this is not ideal, but for orthodontic treatment this is needed as the brackets stick out further and can be uncomfortable while wearing a sports guard.
Once you have your guard it’s important to maintain it, here are a few tips to help you:
Rinse your guard with cold water before and after each use, you can even rinse with mouthrinse and brush with a toothbrush (without toothpaste)
Keep guard in a firm container that permits air circulation which helps prevent damage
Keep away from hot water, hot surfaces and direct sunlight – these can distort the shape & fit
Monitor guard for wear – if the fit becomes loose or you have holes or tears, then it needs to be replaced. * Children’s & Teen’s guards may need to be replaced more often because their mouths are still growing & changing.
Bring guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have it cleaned and evaluated
Keep out of reach of pets as they tend to chew or eat them
The most important thing to remember is your guard needs to be effective. You need a proper fit, easy to clean, durable, and not restrict your breathing. Ask your dentist for more information on which guard would best meet your needs. Don’t get caught without a mouthguard and risk fracturing your teeth especially a front tooth causing trouble with smiling, talking, and eating!