March To A Healthy Smile: Athletic Mouthguards
If someone asked you what you should do to protect your smile, what comes to mind?
Brushing and flossing your teeth? Visiting the dentist for regular dental cleanings?
How about wearing an athletic mouthguard?
Brushing and flossing are things you should be doing daily to protect your mouth from the ever-present bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Professional dental cleanings are another safeguard against those issues.
But brushing your teeth well isn’t going to make a difference if you get elbowed in the mouth fighting for a rebound or for control of the puck.
An athletic mouthguard could make a world of difference in those situations, however.
Hubbard & Leath Dental encourages all our patients to wear athletic mouthguards during high-impact activities. While we are ready to help with dental emergencies at our office in Rochester Hills, MI, our dentists hope for your sake that you never have to deal with one.
A Quick History Of Athletic Mouthguards
Keystone Industries put together an overview of the history of mouthguards , which we would like to share with you.
In 1927, boxer Mike McTigue was handily winning a match against Jack Sharkey. Even so, Sharkey landed a punch that caused McTigue to chip one of his teeth. That chip created a cut on McTigue’s lower lip, which caused him for forfeit the match.
That served as an inspiration to encourage boxers to wear mouthguards during bouts, and with time, mouthguards became standard equipment in combat sports.
In the late 1940s, dentist Rodney O. Lilyquist started designing mouthguards with an acrylic resin. This could be molded to cover both the upper and lower teeth, and it was less bulky than older mouthguards.
At this time (in the days of leather helmets), between one-fourth and one-half of all football injuries were dental injuries.
By the 1950s, the American Dental Association had started promoting the use of athletic mouthguards after researching their effectiveness. Today mouthguards are required for participation in several sports, and the ADA recommends wearing them for several more.
Who Should Wear Athletic Mouthguards?
Everyone who participates in high-impact sports and activities should wear mouthguards during practices and competitions. This is the view shared by the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
You already know some high-impact sports. Boxing and other combat sports like wrestling and mixed martial arts make mouthguards mandatory.
The same is true for sports that frequent contact between players such as football and hockey. Many leagues also require mouthguards for sports like lacrosse and field hockey as well.
But the ADA and AAPD, encourage basketball players, cheerleaders, and volleyball players should wear mouthguards, too.
Indeed, any sport or activity that involves high speeds, flying objects, or frequent jumping and landing can cause oral injuries including broken teeth and tooth loss.
An athletic mouthguard isn’t going to stop someone from falling or getting hit in the mouth with a ball. But, the mouthguard could reduce the effect of that impact in many cases.
To put it in perspective, athletes who do not wear mouthguards are 60 — yes, 60 — times more likely to suffer dental injuries than athletes who do.
While mouthguards are particularly important for young athletes between the ages of 7 and 11, anyone of any age (including teens and adults) should wear athletic mouthguards. Whether you are competing professionals, in a recreational league, or a pickup game with your friends, protecting your teeth should be a priority.
Kinds Of Mouthguards
You have a choice of three basic types of mouthguards.
▪︎ Custom-fitted mouthguards are the most effective and the most comfortable to wear. Since these are created from a mold of your teeth, they can be made smaller than other kinds of mouthguards.
▪︎ Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be found in most sporting goods stores. These are semi-moldable, but they tend to be larger than custom-fitted mouthguards. As a result, these can sometimes interfere with breathing and communication.
▪︎ Stock mouthguards are made in a basic shape be are not moldable. Since they are made in standard sizes, they may not fit your mouth comfortably.