You can sprain your ankle, break a leg, tear a rotator cuff or sustain bruised ribs, but often overlooked in the world of sports medicine and injuries are those suffered in the mouth. Essential in the prevention of athletic oral/facial injuries are properly diagnosed, designed, and custom fabricated mouth guards. Contact sports such as football, boxing, martial arts and hockey require mouth guards while sports traditionally classified as non-contact sports -- basketball, baseball, cycling, roller-blading, soccer, racquetball, squash, skiing surfing and skateboarding, and the like – recommend properly fitted mouth guards.
It is unfortunate that many athletes, parents and coaches do not recognize that there is a world of difference in the quality and variety of mouth guard products, from "over the counter" models bought at sport and drug stores to those that are professionally manufactured and custom made/dentist prescribed. Currently over 90% of the mouth guards worn are the cheaper “over the counter” stock, and boil and bite models that are bulky, lack retention, and interfere with speaking and breathing; while only 10% are custom-made by a dental professional. Therefore the majority of athletes are not wearing properly made dentally diagnosed mouth guards, so in the end, the purpose may be being defeated – the cheaper mouth guard does not do the job it’s intended to do.
A properly fitted mouth guard must be tasteless, odorless, comfortable, protective, resilient, tear resistant, not bulky, allow for speaking and breathing, and have excellent retention, fit, and satisfactory thickness in critical areas. Don’t let witty marketing schemes, claims, and promotions by stock, and boil and bite mouth guard companies, protect the athletic mouth. In sports, the challenge is to maximize the benefits of participation and to limit injuries, and sports dentistry and mouth guards have a major role to play in this area.
Academy for Sports Dentistry
Contact SIRC for more information on dental injury and injury prevention in sport!