Although it might feel as if Spring won’t arrive anytime soon, Spring season for school athletics and other recreational activities are just around the corner. As athletes of all ages gear-up and prepare to take to the fields, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is encouraging all participants to be equipped with a mouth guard, which is one of the most important injury preventative pieces for athletes.
Typically, the use of a mouth guard is associated with contact sports, but the risk of experiencing a mouth injury also exists in non-contact sports. PDA recommends wearing mouth guards when engaging in sports and activities that are performed on hard surfaces, where contact is made with other players, those involving the use of a ball or stick, or when riding a bike or skateboard.
With the use of a properly fitted mouth guard your chances of sustaining oral related injuries are significantly reduced. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, an athlete is 70 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard. In addition, almost one-third of all dental injuries are sports related.
There are three types of mouth guards:
- Stock mouth guards - least expensive, but offer less protection because the fit adjustment is limited.
- Boil and bite - when heated and placed in the mouth, the mouth guard molds itself to the teeth and sets.
- Custom made - made by a dentist from a cast of the patients mouth. They are more expensive, but offer the best protection, fit and comfort.
Be sure to rinse your mouth guard with cold water before and after each use. Clean it regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste, and soak it in mouthwash. Avoid leaving your mouth guard in direct sunlight and rinsing it with hot water, as these actions can cause distortion or damage. When not in use, store it in a firm, well-ventilated plastic container.
PDA reminds athletes that it’s more than just your teeth that are protected from trauma when using a mouth guard. Your lips, tongue, cheeks, face and jaw also are cushioned from potential impact and injuries. While the primary role of mouth guards is to protect the teeth and, wearing one may also reduce the chances of a concussion caused by a blow to the jaw.
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