Although children ages 7-11 who play sports are most susceptible to injury, the American Dental Association (ADA) notes “any athlete is 60 percent more likely to have an injury if they’re NOT wearing a mouthguard.”
The ADA also estimates that 200,000 facial injuries are prevented each year when athletes wear sports mouthguards.
Mouthguards protect the mouth from trauma by keeping lips and cheeks away from the teeth. The guard also prevents the soft tissue inside the mouth from being cut or bruised.
Usually made of flexible plastic, the mouth protectors are essential, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances.
A study by the Academy of General Dentistry concluded, “When it comes to buying a mouthguard, parents who want to reduce their child’s risk of a sports-related injury should visit a dentist instead of a sporting goods store.
“Custom-made mouthguards also can last longer than store-bought models and may be less prone to damage by the athletes,” said Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson Eugene Antenucci, DDS, FAGD.
“Over-the-counter mouthguards are not fitted to the athlete’s mouth, making them less comfortable than custom guards made by a dentist,” said Dr. Antenucci.
“When a mouthguard is not comfortable, the athlete is likely to chew it, reducing its thickness and resulting in less protection,” he adds.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR MOUTHGUARD
- After each use, brush your mouthguard with a toothbrush and cool (not hot) water.
- Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Your dentist will provide a case for it.
- Don’t leave it in direct sunlight or in a hot car. The heat can melt the mouthguard, altering the way it fits in your mouth and resulting in less protection.
- When you see your dentist for regular cleanings, bring your mouthguard. Your dentist can give it a thorough cleaning and check its structure and fit.
We all want the same thing – to be safe. So protect yourself, your kids, the kids you coach and all the grown-up kids playing on the field, the court, the rink, or the ring, by wearing a mouthguard.