How important are mouthguards when I’m playing a contact sport?
Contact sports are, by their very nature, dangerous. Maxillofacial injuries make up 10-20% of all sports related injuries. When you’re not wearing a protective mouthguard, permanent damage to your teeth is 60% more likely. Losing a tooth, or more than one is incredibly painful. Eating, smiling, not to mention talking will be difficult. It’s also not a great look. The best way to prevent that is to wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
What contact sports are more likely to result in maxillofacial injuries without a mouthguard?
In New Zealand, the contact sports which can result in this kind of damage are:
- Acrobatics and Gymnastics
- Field hockey
- Martial arts
- Shot put
- Water polo
Why should maxillofacial dental injuries be avoided?
The injuries from the hard impacts or collisions can cause permanent damage to your lips, tongue, face, jaw, and teeth. Injuries that may require more than dental intervention; you may require medical intervention. And it’s this reason why mouthguards should be worn by both adults and children when playing sport, especially contact sports.
Common types of injuries you could encounter include:
- Lip and cheek injuries
- Chipped, broken, or knocked-out teeth
- Nerve and root damage
- Fractured crowns or bridgework
- Fractured jaws
What does a mouthguard do, and does it matter what kind of mouthguard I wear?
Mouth guards are shock absorbers. They provide a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, and from external impacts. A ball, elbow, or stick to the face can be violent and painful.
The most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit your mouth properly. Because they are often not cheap they need to be durable, easily able to be cleaned, and shouldn’t restrict your speech or your breathing. There are three different types of mouthguards:
- A Stock Mouthguard - Unfortunately, while every mouth has the same basic structure, no mouth is exactly the same. While stock mouthguards are inexpensive and easily available they aren’t made to fit your own mouth. They can be bulky. This makes breathing and talking difficult. And to be honest, they don’t provide much protection. Of the three types available, we don’t recommend these.
- A mouth-formed ‘boil and bite’ mouthguard - Like the stock mouthguards, these are also available very easily. Boiling them softens the material enough for you to bite into making them a better fit for you own mouth.
- Custom-made mouthguard (made by a dental Technician) - The best mouthguards are those made from a mould of your own teeth. As a result they will be the most comfortable, durable and effective. They won’t restrict your breathing or speech. And you can wear them even if you are already wearing braces. In fact, if you are wearing braces, a mouthguard is a very good idea as the braces, brackets or other fixed orthodontics can cause injury to your gums, lips, and cheeks.
Not sure what kind of mouthguard is best for you? Team Dental can provide the best advice for you. Discuss with your dentist at your next check-up or make an appointment today and we can advise you. Contact us on 0508 TEAM DENTAL