Young lacross player wearing a custom dental mouthguard

Protecting Your Teeth During Sports — Custom Mouthguards

There’s no denying the benefits associated with sports and regular physical activity. This is true for people of all ages, especially developing children. The World Health Organization recommends that children ages 5-17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.

Although highly beneficial in terms of their physical and mental health, this level of activity also increases the risk of injury. This is particularly the case in terms of the teeth, a sensitive area that must be protected. If you are a parent who is concerned about your child (or play competitive sports yourself), there’s an easy solution — custom dental mouthguards!

Sports Are Fun (But There Are Risks Involved)

There are risks involved in sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse, and other activities where physical contact is possible (or inevitable). However, just because a sport is considered to be potentially “risky” does not mean that you or your child should not participate.

It’s important to first understand the risks involved and then act in a proactive manner. As they say, prevention is the best medicine and in terms of your oral health, a mouthguard could potentially save your teeth. This is true for both organized competitive sports and unorganized recreational activities.

As stated by the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, it’s estimated that the number of sports-related dental injuries range from 13% to 39% of all dental injuries reported. In fact, each season, every individual has a 10% chance of sustaining an orofacial injury.

Of the injuries sustained, the majority affect the upper jaw. When a child experiences early trauma to their mouth, for instance, this can result in a range of both immediate and delayed issues. From color changes in the teeth to localized enamel hypoplasia, many of these injuries can be incredibly painful — but in many cases, avoidable.

Overall, the three most common dental injuries as a result of sports include:

  • Cracked teeth
  • Fractured roots
  • Tooth intrusion

Introducing the Power of Mouthguards

Although millions of children experience sports-related injuries each year, 67 percent of parents stated that their children do not wear a mouthguard. This is mainly because mouthguards are not a requirement in most leagues.

In high school and college football, for instance, it is said that approximately 200,000 mouth injuries could be prevented each year if mouthguards were worn. This can lead to costly dental repairs and even surgery, which is said to be more than 20 times more expensive than the cost of a preventive custom mouthguard.

Creating a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, mouthguards protect teeth during impact. However, not all mouthguards are created equal.

What Mouthguards Are Available — What’s Best?

Like most products, you can invest in a range of mouthguards. Options will differ based on comfort level and protection, as well as price. Although the following types may all seem like a reliable option, this is not the time to opt for a lower quality product.

Standard Off-the-Shelf Mouthguards

If you go into any sporting store, you will find the least expensive (but least protective) option. Since these products have been pre-formed, they are ready to be used immediately. As you can imagine, the issue here is that the mouthguard is not formed to each individual’s mouth.

When it comes to oral health, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, each person’s individual dental print is unique to them — just like a fingerprint. This option will result in a mouthguard that not only causes discomfort but may actually do more harm than good.

Since this option does not fit well, you have to constantly clench down on the guard to keep it in place. This can cause difficulty when trying to breathe, as well as significant jaw and tooth pain. In severe cases, a disorder called TMJ can develop. This often causes significant pain and discomfort. Learn more about this disorder here.

Off-the-Shelf “Boil and Bite” Mouthguards

Although inexpensive and popular, this option can still be ineffective. After boiling the mouthguard, you can then place it in your mouth (or your child’s mouth) so that it can form to the basic shape of their teeth and mouth. This soft plastic then cools and a mouthguard is created.

Yes, this is a superior option in that you can mold the mouthguard itself. However, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong. When initially creating a “custom” fit, it is possible that you will bite down too hard. At this time, you will compromise the integrity of the plastic.

Unfortunately, this can result in a mouthguard that is too thin. Once in a high-impact situation, it may not protect as intended. This is why each mouthguard should be fit by a professional, ensuring the highest level of protection season after season.

Custom, Professional Mouthguards

This is the ONLY option recommended by dentists based on the issues discussed above. This option provides the highest level of comfort, protection, and durability. Although they cost more upfront, this preventative step could save you thousands in the future (all while preventing painful injuries).

After a dentist takes a mold of your teeth in a professional setting, that mold will be sent to a lab that specializes in dental wear. Based on your needs and the discussion you have with your dentist, the custom mouthguard will then be constructed. This option will last longer in comparison to the options above. This is based on its enhanced durability, which means that it will also offer additional protection.

If you’re in the market for a custom mouthguard, please contact one of our many locations today!

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