Athletic Mouthguards 1

Athletic Mouthguards

Taking care of your oral health means protecting, improving and maintaining your ability to smile, talk and eat well and comfortably. There are many ways to achieve and maintain your oral health, not the least of which is by taking action to prevent dental injuries from occurring. One important way to do this is to protect your mouth with an athletic mouthguard when participating in sport activities.

The Benefits of Athletic Mouthguards

Athletic mouthguards are worn over the teeth in order to protect not only the teeth and jaw, but also the lips, tongue and cheeks. It may seem obvious that an athletic mouthguard is appropriate to wear when you participate in collision sports such as football, boxing and wrestling, but the fact is that impacts and dental injuries can occur accidentally in most sport activities, including even gymnastics and skating. It is therefore best to be safe and wear an athletic mouthguard whenever you participate in any sport activity where impact or collision could potentially occur.

According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, an athlete is sixty times more likely to suffer dental injuries when they are not wearing athletic mouthguards than when they are wearing athletic mouthguards. Unfortunately, many of the dental injuries received during sport activities result in permanent damage, such as root fractures, broken or chipped teeth, lost teeth and displaced teeth, which sometimes require extensive and even lifelong dental treatment. These injuries can be mitigated or prevented altogether with athletic mouthguards. Athletic mouthguards can be especially important for individuals who have braces or fixed bridge work on their teeth. Any collision or blow to the face may not only damage the braces or fixed bridge work, it can cause dental injuries to the gums and cheeks.

Choosing an Athletic Mouthguard

There are three main types of athletic mouthguards: stock, boil-and-bite and custom. Some individuals may argue that any mouthguard is better than none at all, but it is important to understand the primary benefits and drawbacks of each type prior to selecting one, so that you receive the full protection you need and want for the activity you plan to participate in.

Stock mouthguards are often the least expensive option. They come pre-formed and ready-to-wear, which can seem like a great benefit. However, they are made with the intention of fitting a broad range of mouths, which means they can be bulky in your mouth and can impede your normal talking and breathing abilities.

Boil-and-bite mouthguards are also fairly inexpensive, but they are made to better adapt to the shape of your mouth. To prepare a boil-and-bite mouthguard you first boil it in order to soften it, and then bite down on it in order to give it the desired shape. While they normally fit better and are more comfortable than stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards may yet leave something to be desired in the protection department as they tend to be a bit on the thinner side.

Custom mouthguards are the best option in athletic mouthguards as they are designed specifically for your mouth based on impressions that your dentist takes. They are the more expensive option of the three, but they are usually designed for the specific sport activity you plan to participate in so that they are truly the most ideal way to thoroughly and comfortably protect your mouth from dental injuries.

How to Care for an Athletic Mouthguard

The care for athletic mouthguard is very simple, but very important. It should be thoroughly rinsed or brushed with toothbrush and toothpaste before and after each use. It should never be exposed to or soaked in hot water, as this can cause it to deform or become more easily damaged, and it must be permitted to thoroughly dry before it is stored in a sturdy, ventilated container, away from direct sunlight or excessive heat. They should be periodically cleaned with cool, soapy water. While cleaning it, you should also take the opportunity to inspect it carefully for any signs of damage or excessive wear.

Regardless of how well you care for your athletic mouthguard, it will eventually need to be replaced when it begins to show signs of wear, becomes damaged or no longer fits properly. For this reason, it is a very good idea to bring your mouthguard with you to any dental checkups you have, as your dentist will be able to help determine whether it is still in good repair or needs to be replaced. They may also be able to give it a deeper, more thorough cleaning than you can achieve at home.


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