Sports mouthgaurds should be part of the necessary sports equipment for all athletes involved in aggressive contact sports. This is true for any age, but especially young children.
The primary function of a sports mouthgaurd is to protect teeth and prevent serious mouth injuries. However, custom sports mouthgaurds also help reduce the risk of jaw injuries and brain injuries, like sports related concussions. Custom made mouthgaurds (CMM) do not prevent concussions, but help to reduce the risk of concussions and severity of the symptoms by helping to absorb shock, stabilizing the head and neck and limiting the movement caused by a direct impact to the jaw.
Types of Sports Mouth guards
- Stock mouthgaurds are the least expensive mouthgaurds and provide the least protection.
These are over the counter (OTC) mouthgaurds, and are less comfortable than custom sport mouthgaurds. Therefore, athletes tend to chew on them reducing their thickness and level of protection and compliance. The average thickness of an over the counter sport mouthgaurd is 1.65 mm compared to 3.5 mm thickness of a custom sport mouthgaurd. Over the counter sport mouthgaurds are available in sporting goods stores.
- Custom sports mouthgaurds are best because they offer the maximum protection and are more durable than over the counter types.
“High school football players wearing store bought, over the counter mouthgaurds were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) / concussions than those wearing custom made, properly fitted mouthgaurds”, reports a study in May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry, the peer reviewed clinical journal of Academy of General Dentistry.
Care for Sports Mouth guards
- Brush your mouthgaurd after each use with a toothbrush and cool water.
- When not wearing the sports mouthgaurd, store your mouthgaurd in a well ventilated plastic storage box.
- Keep mouthgaurd safe from direct sunlight. The heat will alter the proper fit of your mouthgaurd.
A custom sports mouthgaurd should be an essential part of playing safely for any athlete. Introducing sports mouthgaurds early to children involved in playing sports will help them become accustomed and compliant to wearing sports mouthgaurds as they grow and remain active in sports.
Dental hygienists are able to make custom sport mouthgaurds. Visit your dental hygienist to kick off the spring summer outdoor sports season and have your athletes ready to play safely!