Whether you’re racing down the field for a touchdown or going for a slam dunk on the court, the last thing on an athlete’s mind is the health of their smile. Despite this seemingly unrelated topic, more dental accidents occur while playing sports than you might think.
According to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, dentists estimate that between 13% and 39% of dental injuries occur while playing sports. What’s even more, 80% of all dental injuries affect at least one of the front teeth.
Although many athletes neglect the safety of their teeth, it’s critical to address this issue to avoid dental trauma. In celebration of National Facial Protection Month, all of us here at Dentistry of Nashville encourage our patients to protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard while playing any contact sports.
Why Is It Important To Wear A Mouthguard?
The importance of wearing a mouthguard should not be overlooked. Some of the top reasons to wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports include:
- Avoid Fractures: The most obvious benefit of wearing a mouthguard is protecting your teeth from breaking. If a fracture does occur, there are still several dental treatments that can save your tooth. However, we believe that preventative measures should be taken to avoid this problem altogether.
- Avoid Tooth Displacement: Even if your teeth remain intact without any chips or fractures, they can still be displaced. Displacement occurs when the tooth still remains partially or completely in the socket but has shifted. This is particularly dangerous because it can cause your tooth to move easily after the accident.
- Protect Your Jaw: A mouthguard can also be a useful tool for protecting your jaw. In the instance of impact, a mouthguard can help to absorb the shock and prevent a painful injury to the jaw.
- Protect Soft Tissue: A mouthguard is useful for protecting the soft tissues of the mouth, including the gums, cheeks, and lips. During impact, many athletes can bite through their lower lip or inner cheek. Wearing a mouthguard can protect your teeth along with these soft tissues.
- Save Money: In the end, investing money in a mouthguard will save you the pain and financial burden of costly treatment for dental injuries.
The Most Common Dental Injuries For Athletes
According to the American Dental Assistants’ Association, approximately 5 million Americans lose teeth due to injuries related to sports. The most common types of injuries fall into three categories:
- Cracked teeth
- Fractured roots
- Tooth intrusion
No matter what category your dental trauma falls in, it’s critical to treat the issue as soon as possible. Avoiding treatment can impact the rest of your teeth, and you may even end up losing a tooth that initially could have been saved.
Types Of Mouthguards
If you’ve decided to invest in a mouthguard, we’d like to congratulate you on taking the first step to protecting your smile and dental health! The next important step is choosing the right mouthguard according to your budget and preferences.
A mouthguard should be resilient, comfortable, and not restrict your breathing. Some of your choices for mouthguards include:
- Custom-made mouthguards: A custom-made device provides the best fit and the most protection. The mouthguard is made by taking an impression of your teeth to perfectly fit your mouth. While this is the most comfortable, effective option, it is also the most expensive.
- Boil-and-bite mouthguards: These types of mouthguards come pre-formed and can be fitted by boiling the mouthguard and biting down. Most boil-and-bite mouthguards can be found at sporting good stores and are a more comfortable option than stock mouthguards.
- Stock mouthguards: These mouthguards are preformed and ready to wear. These can often be the least comfortable.
Maintaining your mouthguard is also important for protecting your smile. According to a 2011 study published in Sports Medicine, researchers found a variety of molds and bacteria on the mouthguards of football players. Properly cleaning and caring for your mouthguard will ensure your mouth stays clear of bacteria while protecting your teeth. Some of the best ways to maintain your mouthguard include:
- Keeping your mouthguard in a clean dry area between games
- Rinse and brush your mouthguard before and after use
- Soak your mouthguard in soapy water and rinse for thorough cleanings
- Never leave your mouthguard in hot water or the hot sun
- Look for signs of wear and replace your mouthguard when necessary
Contact Dentistry Of Nashville
Do you have additional questions about protecting your smile while playing sports? No matter what your dental concerns are, we are here to assist you! From family dentistry to restorative treatment, your smile is in the best hands possible with us! Contact our office today to learn more about how we can give you a healthier, beautiful smile.