We are a few weeks into the football season and just a few days from the start of hockey and the question on everyone’s mind is “How do these players protect their teeth?!” Okay well maybe more people are wondering if the Giants can hold a 4th quarter lead and if this will be the year the Rangers finally hoist the Stanley Cup, but a tooth-filled smile is nice too right?
While contact sports, like the ones mentioned above, are a prominent cause for trauma, dental injuries can also occur in non-contact activities and exercises such as basketball, baseball, and gymnastics. The most effective way to protect the dentition and soft tissue is through use of a custom athletic mouthguard. 1,2
Mouthguards provide a resilient, protective surface to distribute and dissipate forces on impact, thereby minimizing the severity of traumatic injury, such as fractured or knocked out teeth or laceration of the soft tissue. While custom athletic mouthguards are considered by many to be the most protective option, other mouthguards can be effective if they fit well, are worn properly and stay in place.3
According to a 2007 meta-analysis of studies evaluating the effectiveness of mouthguards in reducing injuries, the overall injury risk was found to be 1.6-1.9 times greater when a mouthguard was not worn, relative to when mouthguards were used during athletic activity.2 Another study of collegiate basketball teams found that athletes wearing custom athletic mouthguards sustained significantly fewer dental injuries than those who did not.4
Overall, if you or your child is participating in any athletic contest, especially those involving contact, a mouthguard should be considered a part of the uniform. The best mouthguard is one that fits well and is comfortable so that it is worn at all times during competition. It should be thick enough to protect the dentition, but not too big to impede normal breathing and swallowing. A custom athletic mouthguard is the best solution to protect your smile.
Below are just a few more facts about dental injuries and mouthguards. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or give our office a call.
A few additional facts about custom athletic mouthguards 5
- Dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports; the majority of these dental injuries are preventable.
- An athlete is more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard.
- The cost of a fractured tooth is many times greater than the cost of a dentist diagnosed and professionally made custom athletic mouthguard. Depending on the severity of the injury, the tooth may need a crown or be replaced with an implant
- Every athlete involved in contact sport has about a 10% chance per season of an orofacial injury, or a 33-56% chance during an athletic career.
- It is estimated that faceguards and mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and college football.
- The stock mouthguard which is bought at sports stores without any individual fitting, provide only a low level of protection, if any. If the wearer is rendered unconscious, there is a risk the mouthguard may lodge in the throat potentially causing an airway obstruction. A custom athletic mouthguard is the most reliable option.
1. ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations; ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. Using mouthguards to reduce the incidence and severity of sports-related oral injuries. JADA 2006;137(12):1712-20.
2. Knapik JJ, Marshall SW, Lee RB, et al. Mouthguards in sport activities: history, physical properties and injury prevention effectiveness. Sports Medicine 2007;37(2):117-44.3. Kumamoto DP, Maeda Y. A literature review of sports-related orofacial trauma. Gen Dent 2004;52(3):270-80.
3. “Mouthguards.” Mouthguards. ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations
4. Labella CR, Smith BW, Sigurdsson A. Effect of mouthguards on dental injuries and concussions in college basketball. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002;34(1):41-4.
5. “Sports Dentistry Facts.” Sports Dentistry Online – Sports Dentistry Facts. Sports Dentistry Online.