Sports are a great way to foster personal development, a strong work ethic, and teamwork. But tough play has its drawbacks, especially if athletes don’t wear a mouthguard.
Literally millions of kids have teeth knocked out during youth sports every year, to the tune of more than half a billion dollars in medical costs to parents.
Sports injuries are the number-one cause of emergency room visits for teenagers. A significant number of those are due to oral injury, as athletes are 60 times more likely to sustain oral trauma if they aren’t wearing a mouthguard.
There are three primary ways that oral trauma occurs in sports, all of which are mitigated by wearing a mouthguard. The teeth and mouth can be struck, the teeth can hit each other, or the teeth can hurt the soft tissues in the mouth.
When an athlete is hit on the mouth, mouthguards work primarily by redistributing the force of an impact. A strike that may have impacted one or two teeth with all its power is instead cushioned, its force distributed among all the teeth. Force redistribution greatly reduces the risk of oral trauma.
Mouthguards also act as shock absorbers between the upper and lower jaw when teeth would otherwise hit each other, significantly reducing the risk of oral trauma.
Sports injuries are often caused by the teeth lacerating the lips, gums, or tongue. A mouthguard is a protective shield between the teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth.
Most Common Types of Tooth Trauma in Youth Sports
Dental avulsion is the complete displacement of a tooth due to trauma. An avulsed permanent tooth is a true dental emergency, as immediate treatment often means the tooth can be successfully replanted. After more than an hour or so, the chances of a good prognosis for the original tooth quickly fades.
A dental intrusion occurs when a tooth is knocked inward (rather than being knocked out). A traumatic impact can drive teeth into the jawbone. It’s more likely to occur in younger children, whose alveolar bones haven’t hardened. Dental intrusions require urgent care, as the injury can result in the loss of the roots or the tooth.
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
A direct impact to the jaw or face that isn’t mitigated by a mouthguard often damages the exposed front teeth. Teeth are hard, but when they contact each other from impact or grinding, they can be damaged.
Not all cracks are visible to the naked eye, and they can even occur below the gumline. Pain or sensitivity while eating means that the injury needs to be checked out promptly. Left untreated, decay or infection can set in.
Types of Mouthguards
Patients often ask if the type of mouthguard matters. All mouthguards are better than nothing, but sports medicine experts indicate that off-the-shelf mouthguards are much less effective. A mouthguard is good; a good mouthguard is great.
Stock mouth protectors are the most common type and can range from very inexpensive to premium pricing. They come pre-formed, meaning the fit can’t be customized to an individual’s bite.
A person’s bite is as unique as their fingerprint, and a poor fit reduces a mouthguard’s effectiveness. Not only will the force of an impact be unequally distributed, but kids are less likely to wear an uncomfortable, poor-fitting mouthguard If they don’t wear it, it can’t protect them.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards offer an improvement over pre-formed mouth protectors — they can be fitted. Made from thermoplastics, these mouth protectors are softened in boiling water, placed in the mouth, and then bitten down on to form a mold of the teeth.
Boiled mouthguards are an improvement over stock protectors, but they aren’t very durable. The material wears down easily and is thin enough that athletes often chew through their devices. Inspect boil-and-bite mouth protectors frequently and replace them often.
Custom Sports Mouthguards in Bedford
Who better to make your child’s mouthguard fit their mouth perfectly than their dentist? Our practice partners with Glidewell Labs to produce the highest level of protection for athletes. A custom-made PlaySafe mouthguard comes with the precision and quality guarantee that you can always expect from our office.
A perfect fit improves compliance and comfort, while the laminated, pressure-formed materials provide the maximum level of durability and protection.
Custom mouth protectors aren’t just a good investment; they also look great. PlaySafe mouthguards can be personalized with colors, team logos, jersey numbers, or stickers to fit the personality of every athlete.
Schedule an appointment with your Bedford dentist, and we can help protect your athlete.