Fall is just a month away. Though it doesn’t start until September 22, by fall we mean school fall: the season that begins with the first day of school. What matters to us is that with school comes fall sports, and those sports in particular tend to be rough. Football, lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey (which starts in the fall, but goes through winter) are all no brainers when it comes to wearing a mouth guard. However, medical professionals now are recommending them for many more sports, including a lot of non-contact ones.
Why You Need a Mouth Guard
Frankly, it makes sense. In football and ice hockey there’s a lot of direct contact; same in lacrosse, but with that sport and field hockey you could take a nice line drive to the face with the ball. But traditionally non-contact sports also carry their own risks of orofacial injury:
- Basketball; the old elbow to the face
- Gymnastics; with a head-on collision with the equipment or floor
- Bicycling; if you flip over the handle bars
- Volleyball; it might be air filled but taking a spike to the face—not to mention—an overeager teammate’s fist while they dive for the ball, can do some damage
What Kind of Mouth Guard to Choose
There are basically three types, with their own pros and cons:
- Preformed ready-made, or stock, mouth guards bought from a sporting goods store. They’re inexpensive, but bulky and provide less protection.
- Mouth-formed “boil and bite” guards. Also bought from a sporting goods store, but when heated can be shaped to one’s teeth. It provides better protection with a little work on your end.
- Custom-fitted mouth guards made by a dentist. They may be a little more expensive and require a visit to the office, but they offer by far the best protection and comfort.
Protection and comfort are key features of an effective mouth guard. Others to keep in mind are its resilience, whether it’s tear resistant, and, crucially, if it restricts breathing in any way.
Mouth Guard Upkeep
A mouth guard should be treated much more like a dental appliance and much, much less like athletic equipment (don’t let it sit in your locker with your hockey pads). That means taking care to clean it effectively. Use antiseptic mouthwash, toothpaste, and brush to thoroughly clean it. Keep it in a secure, perforated container, to get some airflow to it. Avoid high temperatures with their tendency to morph plastic. And like a real dental appliance, take it to the dentist! Have he or she check it over so you don’t have to come back with your teeth knocked out.
Some Extra Advice
Though this post may concern mostly with sports, athletics are not the only thing to be wary of. Those other activities our daredevil kids do—skateboarding, mountain biking, and the occasional motor cross—are rife with face injury. These activities are too fun and exhilarating for your kids to quit, so at least make sure they’re safe.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate and top-quality comprehensive care dentist located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee. Check out our website, reviews, Facebook page Connect with us and learn!