May 11, 2011
We usually think of athletic mouthguards as protection for the teeth during contact sports. Many sports have mouthguards as required equipment, which seems like common sense in sports such as football or hockey. It is important, however, to consider many sports as potentially causing serious dental injuries. I will not bore you with an endless list of sports that have caused dental distress, but parents and participants may want to consider the nature of the sport and make an informed decision.
In my twenty two years of dental practice, the unfortunate winner of dental injury is basketball. Other sports injuries that I have treated involve baseball(groundballs and bats), field hockey, soccer and mountain biking.
With regard to the injuries we are concerned with several. Obviously direct contact causing trauma to the teeth,and attachment, but also consider a blow to the chin which will cause the teeth to smash together. This can lead to damage to the teeth and/or damage to the jaw joint(orTMJ).
The other important role mouthguards can play is reducing the occurance of concussions. One can only wonder if some of the high profile concussion injuries(Patrice Bergeron, Mark Savard, Sydney Crosby) would have been prevented if these players were wearing mouthguards. Recently the U.S. Equestrian Association recommended riders to wear mouthguards during jumping events to reduce the possibility of concussions.
Dental injuries can be serious and very expensive. Often a patient will be left with a lifetime of dental challenge. These can be avoided by an inexpensive piece of equipment. If you cannot find one that fits adequately at the local sporting goods store, see your dentist who can make a custom mouthguard(in a variety of colors) for a small fee. Very small considering the alternative.
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