Posts for tag: mouthguards
Autumn begins in the month of September, a season that promises cooler days and longer nights. But more significantly for sports fans, September marks the start of football season. Football remains America’s favorite spectator sport—and it’s also played by countless college and high school athletes, as well as those who enjoy an occasional pickup game in the back yard or on the beach. Yet, like many contact sports, football (even touch football) carries a risk of injury—and one of the areas of the body most vulnerable to injury is the mouth.
Some of the most common dental injuries in contact sports include lacerations (cuts), tooth fractures, displacement (teeth pushed deeper into or out of their sockets), knocked-out teeth, and temporomandibular joint problems. While it’s hard to pin down the exact statistics, researchers estimate that over 5 million teeth are avulsed (completely knocked out) every year in the U.S. alone—a significant number of which are due to sports injuries. It is also estimated that the lifetime cost to treat an avulsed tooth ranges from $5,000 to $20,000!
Given the prevalence of sports-related dental injuries, it’s no wonder that protective devices have been developed to minimize the risk. Properly fitted mouthguards have been shown time and again to be effective at preventing many types of dental injuries. Yet the use of devices isn’t always required by rule-making organizations—and many casual players don’t use them at all. That’s a shame, because so many of the injuries are preventable.
Custom-made mouthguards are available right here at the dental office. Strong and durable, these protective devices are specially fabricated from a model of the player’s own teeth. That means they offer the maximum protection, yet can be comfortably worn during practices, backyard games or championships—an important consideration, since accidents often happen when least expected. (And if you’re a parent of a child who plays sports, that’s probably something you already know.)
It isn’t just football players who can benefit from mouthguards: Those with a passion for soccer, basketball, baseball, martial arts, and dozens of other sports can also get the protection they need from this small (but important) item. So this season, when you’re watching or playing your favorite game, think about the extra safety and peace of mind you could gain from a custom-made mouthguard.
If you have questions about custom-made mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry” and “Athletic Mouthguards.”
- What is a mouthguard? A mouthguard or mouth protector is a protective appliance that covers the teeth and gums to prevent or reduce injury to the teeth, gums, jaws, and lips during sports or other activities prone to injuries.
- Who should use a mouthguard? Children, adolescents or even adults who participate in contact or injury prone sports should use a mouthguard.
- What do you mean by contact sports? Mouthguards are used most commonly in sports such as boxing, football, hockey and lacrosse. The American Dental Association recommends protection for 27 different sports, including basketball, soccer, water polo, rugby and more. The governing bodies of football, boxing, ice hockey, men's lacrosse and women's field hockey require mouth protection. It's a good idea to use a mouthguard during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.
- What does the mouthguard protect against? A mouthguard protects against breaking or dislodging teeth or injuring jaws, gums, lips, or tongue, all injuries that can happen when you engage in contact or injury prone sports.
- What are my choices for mouthguards? The best choice is a custom-made mouthguard fitted and made by a dentist. Stock mouthguards that are one size fits all can be bought off-the-shelf in stores, but there is no guarantee of fit or protection. A third type is a “boil and bite” guard, in which the guard material is heated and then shaped by biting down on the softened material. This offers some attempt at fitting that is better than off-the-shelf, but not as good as a mouthguard that is designed specifically for you.
- Why is it better to get a mouthguard from our office than to buy one at a store? Studies have shown that store-bought stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards do not offer the same protection as a custom-made mouthguard. In our office we will make a mold of your mouth and design your mouthguard to fit your individual characteristics. It will be comfortable and easy to clean and will not restrict your speech or breathing. It will be made of resilient and tear-resistant materials, properly adapted for maximum protection, comfort and injury protection.
Wearing a properly fitted and properly used mouthguard prevents injuries to teeth, jaws, gums, lips, or tongue when you or your child participates in contact sports. Make an appointment with us to discuss your custom fitted mouthguard. To learn more read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Mouthguards.”
Clenching, or grinding of your teeth (also known as bruxing) are common habits. Biting forces are normally small, gentle, fleeting and very frequent throughout the day. In fact, it's the normal stimulus necessary to keep your teeth and jawbone healthy. When you clench or grind your teeth you apply forces up to ten times normal (in the 200 lb range). And it's not just the force, it's the duration and frequency with which they're applied. High forces lasting for seconds or minutes, frequently exerted, can affect some or all of the masticatory system. This includes the teeth, jaws, jaw joints and muscles, causing aching jaws, headaches, earaches, neck and even backaches; and the teeth themselves causing excessive wear, fractures, or even loose teeth.
Why does grinding occur? Habitual grinding is most frequently a reaction to stress. Sometimes abnormalities in your bite or malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) can trigger clenching or grinding. It is normal for children to sometimes grind their teeth when new teeth are coming in, but it may be indications of stress too. You may be grinding your teeth subconsciously in your sleep, but it may be so loud as to awaken your sleeping partner. Or our office may be the first to suspect it during a dental exam because of the apparent signs of change to muscles, joints and teeth especially abnormal tooth wear.
What can be done about teeth grinding or bruxing? If you are symptomatic, having pain, muscle, joint or tooth soreness, the first step is to get you comfortable. Generally, a mild non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin, ibuprofen) and muscle relaxants will help in addition to moist heat and mild jaw exercises. Stress management is also helpful. To prevent further damage, we may recommend a bite guard made of wear-resistant plastic that fits over the biting surfaces of your upper teeth. These customized unobtrusive appliances when properly fitted and adjusted stop clenching and grinding activity, or at least the damage they can do. A bite guard can be worn day or night especially during stressful periods.
When involved in high impact sports or vigorous activities, it is important to protect your mouth and teeth. This statement is backed by the fact that there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the US each year according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In addition to absorbing and distributing the forces that impact the mouth, teeth, face and jaws an athlete receives while participating in sports such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey (ice and field), skateboarding and wrestling, the American Dental Association (ADA), also recommends the use of custom mouthguards for other activities such as acrobatics, bicycling, handball, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting.
These facts make two things clear: (1) it is vital that you obtain a professionally made mouthguard that you wear during these types of activities and (2) that you also understand how this mouthguard protects you. Below are just a few ways.
- Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from lacerations that can occur from a blow or sudden jolt.
- Mouth Impact. Just as a mouthguard protects against soft tissue lacerations, it can also help prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth. This includes but is not limited to chipped teeth, fractured teeth, broken teeth and teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
- TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard can reduce the potential for jaw displacement and joint fractures by cushioning the jaws against damage from an impact.
- Direct Jaw Impact. Anytime a person receives a direct impact to his/her jaw, having a mouthguard in place may help prevent more serious injuries to teeth and jaws. This is especially important for anyone diagnosed with TMJ.
- Jaw Fracture. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard both absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.
- Under Chin Impact. Receiving a blow under the chin can obviously damage teeth; however, it can also cause damage to the jaws as well as inflame or cause TMJ issues.