Mouth guards, also called sports guards or mouth
protectors, are a flexible plastic device worn over the teeth during high risk activities, typically sports.
They protect the teeth and tissues of the mouth from traumatic blows to the head and face. They also safeguard
against traumatic blows to the face from being transferred to other structures, thereby helping to prevent jaw
fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, concussions and neck injuries. By keeping soft tissue away from the teeth, they
help prevent cuts and bruises to the tongue, lips and cheeks. This is especially important for
those wearing braces.
Mouth guards are often used when playing sports
that involve an individual participating in an activity that might result in an injury. Basketball, football, soccer, hockey,
skateboarding, gymnastics and mountain biking are just examples.
So why don't more people wear mouth guards?
Since it is not mandatory for athletes to use mouth guards, many do not because they fit poorly, are uncomfortable,
have difficulty speaking and image. Nobody else is wearing one, so I won't. Many coaches do not realize
the value of the mouth guard, so do not encourage their athletes to wear one. And many parents are not aware
of the level of contact and potential for serious injuries (including dental) involved in their children's
activities. Gender bias also is a factor, as many people incorrectly feel that female athletes are less
aggressive and less at risk of injury. Cost is also often cited as a limiting factor, but the cost of custom
mouth guards has come down and is much less than the cost of reconstruction.
Other guards and splints, such as bite plates,
NTI's, bleach trays and night guards should not be worn during athletic activities as they are not designed for
that kind of stress, are more fragile and may transfer forces other head and neck areas causing more sever
Sports guards are often made to cover the upper teeth, and they should
protect the lips, mouth and cheeks. No matter the design, composition, or method of fabrication, all
mouth guards are made of plastic. There are three types:
· Custom made mouth
guards These are designed by your dentist and made by a professional
laboratory. They are specifically made for the
individual and they provide the best protection and fit with very little soft tissue
irritation. They have the best resiliency to provide good relief of
trauma to other parts of the head. Customized mouth guards are the one that health
Boil and bite
Many sporting goods store carry these mouth
protectors. They come in a pre-formed mouth piece
shape. By warming in
boiling water and biting on the plastic, the sports guard can be form fit to fit the
individual. You have to follow the
directions carefully, and they are very technique sensitive. It is hard to get a good fit that does not
irritate the soft tissues in the mouth. They provide limited protection, and are bulkier and more
uncomfortable than the custom made mouth guards.
guards These pre-formed mouth guard comes ready to use out of the
box. Even though they are inexpensive, these sports guard are bulky and often do not fit
properly. They provide very little protection to the teeth, and can cause quite a bit of irritation to the
soft tissue. They are very poor at providing relief of trauma to other part of the head.
American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in
high school and collegiate sports. Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment. They should be:
1. Comfortable so the individual can speak and breathe easily
2. Odorless and tasteless
3. Protective as well as resilient and tear resistant
4. 3-4mm in thickness to properly protect
Retentive so it does not come loose during action
6. Durable and easy to
7. Cleaned after
is important to remember that anyone that participates in sports should be wearing a mouth guard, regardless
of age or level of sport.
November 4, 2009
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