KEEP SPORTS SAFE–WEAR A MOUTHGUARD

When pulling together your sports equipment, don’t forget about getting a mouth guard.  Whether you’re participating in organized sports or are a weekend warrior, you should think about the importance of protecting your mouth.

A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is a key piece of athletic gear that can help protect your smile.  People typically think about wearing mouth guards in contact sports, such as football, basketball, boxing, lacrosse or hockey, but the risk of experiencing an oral injury also exists in non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, baseball or skateboarding.  Mouth guards cushion blows that might otherwise cause broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.

TYPES OF MOUTH GUARDS

Three types of mouth guards are available:

*ready-made stock mouth guards

*mouth formed boil and bite mouth guards

*custom-made mouth guards

All three mouth guards provide some protection, but they vary in cost, comfort and durability.  Stock mouth guards can be bought in most sporting goods stores but come in limited sizes (usually small, medium and large).  Like stock mouth guards, mouth formed–or boil and bite–mouth guards are available at sporting goods stores and come in limited sizes.  A boil and bite mouth guard offers a more personalized fit in that you can soften it in boiling water and then bite into it to shape to your teeth.  Your dentist can make a custom mouth guard that conforms to your mouth, offering a better fit than that of the others.

Store-bought mouth guards are inexpensive, but because they are intended to fit a variety of mouths, they tend to be less comfortable than are custom made versions.

The most effective mouth guard is tear resistant and comfortable.  It should fit properly in your mouth without restricting your speech or breathing.  A good mouth guard should be durable and easy to clean.

Typically, a mouth guard covers only the upper teeth, but some activities may call for protection of the lower teeth as well.  Talk with your dentist about your personal needs

CHOOSING A MOUTH GUARD

When looking for a mouth guard, you might consider several factors:

*Is your dentition changing?  Do you still have primary teeth?  Are you waiting for permanent teeth to erupt to fill in your smile?

*What sport are you playing?  At what level?  Are you tossing the ball around with friends or will you be playing in a competitive league?

*Have you had any special dental treatment, such as placement of crowns or braces, that might require additional protection?

Your dentist is in the best position to counsel you about your specific situation and can be a great resource when you are looking for a mouth guard.

CARING FOR YOUR MOUTH GUARD

Whether store bought or custom made, your mouth guard can be cared for easily.

*Before and after each use, rinse it with cool water or mouth rinse.  You also can clean your mouth guard with toothpaste and toothbrush.

*Store and transport your mouth guard in a sturdy container that has vents to allow air circulation.

*To keep mouth guard from losing its shape, avoid exposing it to high temperatures, such as in hot water, on hot surfaces or in direct sunlight.

*Do not chew on or cut pieces off your mouth guard.

*Check your mouth guard regularly for tears or holes and to make sure the fit isn’t to loose.  In addition to making your mouth guard less effective, this kind of wear can irritate your gums, lips or cheek lining.

*Schedule regular dental visits and bring your mouth guard so that your dentist can make sure it still fits properly and is in good condition.

It is never to early to start wearing a mouth guard.  As soon as you begin to look into sports for you or your child, talk with your dentist.  Good habits start early, and use of a mouth guard by children and teenagers will promote and reinforce use later in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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