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Why You Should Wear Sports Mouthguards

Maintaining healthy teeth and mouths provides unique day-to-day benefits for individuals, including assisting with chewing and digesting food, helping individuals speak clearly, and shaping faces with amazing and confident smiles. Due to these benefits, it is essential to maintain good dental hygiene and protect teeth from any impact-related sports.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), “it was reported that 13-39% of all dental injuries are sports-related, with 2-18% of the injuries related to the maxillofacial.” Maxillofacial refers to the face, head, neck, jaw, and any related structures to these areas.

Sports-related dental injuries affect young sports competitors, including those who participate in basketball, boxing, extreme sports, ice hockey, skiing, lacrosse, field hockey, and football, to name a few. It is why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends mouthguard protection for youth participating in sports.

We will provide additional details about common athletic dental injuries, mouthguard information and its three categories, and the benefits of wearing a sports mouthguard.

Common Athletic Dental Injuries

Some common sports-related dental injuries include soft tissue injuries, fractured crowns and roots, tooth intrusion, extrusion or avulsion, and temporomandibular joint dislocation. Treatment for many of these injuries is expensive and could turn into long-term issues depending on the dental injury or trauma incurred.

We will provide you below with information about the different types of sports-related injuries:

  • Soft tissue injuries include abrasions, contusions, and lacerations in different areas of the face, such as the brow, cheek, chin, or lips.
  • Crown and root fractures are the most common dental and trauma injuries. It may sometimes be a simple crown infraction (when the enamel is crazed without much loss of structure) or ranging to the exposed pulp, which includes connective tissue and blood vessels. If there is a possible fracture, it will affect jaw mobility, leading to evaluations to determine the severity and potential treatment options.
  • Tooth intrusion occurs when an impact is too severe, and the tooth's root perforates into the tooth socket. Depending on the maturity of the tooth root, treatment could include repositioning, surgery, or extrusion.
  • Tooth extrusion is the opposite of a tooth intrusion, where the tooth is out of its socket partially. Treatment involves gently repositioning the tooth back in place. However, depending on the trauma and vitality of the pulp, a root canal may be required.
  • Tooth avulsion is one of the most common sports-related injuries, and it refers to when a tooth is completely displaced from its socket. However, there is a 90% success rate of attaching the tooth as long as there is no damage to the periodontal fibers and treatment is completed soon after the injury.
  • Temporomandibular joint dislocation (TMJ) refers to the jaw joints. When there is a sports-related impact, it can cause resorption or breakdown/loss of the jaw joint bones or dislocation. Symptoms of TMJ include jaw pain, headaches, earaches, pain in the neck and shoulders, locked jaw, difficulty chewing, opening wide, swelling, and tooth pain. TMJ may also cause changes in the facial bone structure.

These dental injuries should be taken seriously, and there is a simple solution that will help children who participate in athletic events to prevent and mitigate dental injuries and trauma: mouthguards. 

Mouthguards are not all equal and must follow approved guidelines. There are also three different categories for classification we will discuss below. 

Mouthguard Guidelines and Categories

A mouthguard is a dental device individuals wear over their teeth. 

The American Dentistry Association (ADA) has guidelines for how mouthguards should protect the wearer. According to the standards, mouthguards should be able to accomplish the following:

  • Fit and adapt to the oral structure of the wearer
  • The mouthguard material must be resilient and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Stay in place securely while being compatible with the wearer
  • Easy to clean
  • High-impact energy absorption

The American Society for Testing and Materials classified mouthguards into three categories, stock mouthguards, mouth-formed protectors (boil and bite mouthguards), and custom-made mouthguards. 

  • Stock mouthguards are purchased over-the-counter at a local pharmacy, and it has a few shortcomings. Due to its design, individuals are unable to modify stock mouthguards, and the wearer must hold them in place by clenching the teeth together. Otherwise, this type of mouthguard wouldn’t provide the ideal protection benefits.  
  • Mouth-formed protectors are also known as boil and bite mouthguards due to their thermoplastic material which adapts to the wearer. After placing the mouthguard into hot water, put on the mouthguard and adjust it with either your fingers, tongue, or bitting to shape the mouthguard to fit the teeth/mouth structure of the wearer.
  • Custom-made mouthguards provide maximum protection for the wearer. The production of this type of mouthguard involves creating a dental model of the wearer using one of two techniques: vacuum-forming or heat-pressure lamination. Custom-made mouthguards also offer better protection, retention, and comfort.

Children and young competitors participating in any type of impact sports would benefit more from a custom-made mouthguard. According to a study about sports dentistry and mouthguards, a properly custom-made and fitted mouthguard of 3.0 millimeters of thickness reduces the chances of concussions.

At Durango Dental, Dr. Belt brings over a decade of experience and provides properly fitted, custom-made mouthguards for young competitors. Call today for more information and to set up your appointment at (970) 259-3112.

Benefits of Wearing Sports Mouthguards

The AAPD explains that the mouthguard “helps to prevent fractures and dislocations of teeth by providing cushioning from the blow and redistributing shock during forceful impacts and decreases the likelihood of jaw fracture by a similar mechanism and also by stabilizing the mandible.”

Based on this information, mouthguards provide a cushion of protection for the teeth and help protect the head against concussions due to impacts on the jaw. 

In addition, as mouthguards provide a layer of protection against dental injuries and trauma, athletes can recuperate faster so they can return to play equally as fast. 

How Durango Dental Can Help

At Durango Dental, we are focused and committed to providing the best care for all your dental needs. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment or receive more information about athletic mouthguards. Durango DMD is the premiere location for pleasant, high-quality care delivered with a light touch.

For more information, schedule a dental check-up and ask Dr. Belt about an athletic mouthguard for your young athlete by calling us at 970-259-3112 today!