Sports are where the majority of injuries to your mouth or teeth occur. If you play a sport, you should always wear a mouth guard. Basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and volleyball could impact your gum tissues, as well as your teeth. The sports that are most dangerous to your teeth are football and hockey. Surprisingly, however, nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
Helmets are certainly a preventative. They can protect you from concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents of unconsciousness, jaw fractures and neck injuries. They are a great deterrent for protecting the lower jaw if it gets jammed into the upper jaw. Your mouth guard creates a barrier between soft tissue in the oral cavity and your teeth. This will also protect your lips and cheeks, preventing laceration and bruising. They’re especially useful for those who wear orthodontic appliances.
To minimize the risk of broken teeth and any injuries to the mouth’s soft tissues, a mouth guard covers the upper teeth and cushions any blow to the face. If you wear braces or any other fixed dental appliance on the lower jaw, you can find a mouth guard for these teeth as well.
Fixed bridgework and braces should always be fitted with a mouth protector. If you receive a blow to the face, it’s possible it could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. This device also forms a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips.
In many cases, mouth guards only cover the upper teeth. Don’t be surprised if your dentist or orthodontist recommends that you use one on the lower teeth if they contain braces. Any removable appliance such as a retainer or removable bridge should not be worn while participating in contact sports.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are three types of mouth protectors:
- Stock – They are Inexpensive and come pre-formed and ready to wear. Many times they don't fit very well. They’re also bulky and make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite – These can be purchased at many sporting goods stores. They might offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. Be sure to soften them in water. Afterwards, insert and allow them to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Following the directions carefully will ensure the device fits properly.
- Custom-fitted – This device is created by your dentist and fits you personally. These are more expensive than competing versions. However, customization provides you with a better fit than any device you purchase off the shelf.