A mouth guard is generally considered only necessary for children and adults who play contact sports such as football or hockey. But the reality is, dental injuries can occur with any form of exercise. They can happen anytime and anywhere—at the gym, while eating an apple, or even having your glass bumped at a party.
The simple fact is that wearing a mouth guard—particularly during physical or sporting activities—can prevent a multitude of injuries, from chipped or broken teeth, fractured crowns or bridgework, lip and cheek injuries, root damage to the teeth, to fractured jaws.
Bear in mind that once a permanent tooth has been knocked out, it’s gone for good. There is no substitute for real teeth, so we should do our utmost to protect them and never take them for granted. After all, veneers, bonding, root canals, and fillings are costly and often do not last a lifetime.
Given the risks, it makes a lot of sense to wear a mouth guard when playing any form of exercise or sport, including gymnastics, ice skating, and skiing.
How a Mouth Guard Works
Mouth guards work by absorbing and evenly distributing the force of contact, thereby protecting the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. For example, when a child falls off his bike, the jaw automatically clenches, causing one tooth to strike another.
While mouth guards are not mandatory in organized sports, the vast majority of dental and facial injuries are sports-related and could be easily avoided by using a mouth guard, which has been likened to an “airbag for teeth.”
The jury is still out as to whether mouth guards offer protection against concussion. But it stands to reason that extra padding between the mandible and the maxilla softens the blow of the mandible against the skull upon impact.
Types of Mouth guard
Made of a soft plastic or laminate that covers the upper teeth, mouth guards typically come in two types and vary according to quality and cost:
- Convenient and inexpensive to purchase
- Available at many pharmacies and sporting goods stores
- Can be bulky, poorly fitting and uncomfortable to wear
- Offer less protection than custom guards
- Inhibits speech and breathing
- Prone to being chewed on (so less effective)
- More expensive since it is custom made
- Available from your dentist or orthodontist
- Made from an “impression” or exact mould of your teeth
- Thin and snug fit, comfortable to wear
- Ability to talk and breathe
- Most effective protection against injuries to the teeth and jaws
How to Care For Your Mouth Guard
Like any retainer or appliance, a mouth guard will last longer if you take care to store and clean it well:
- Gently scrub with a toothbrush and toothpaste after each use
- Store in a protective case
- Keep away from hot water or sun
- Do not chew on it
- Replace every season
- Discard if improper fit
If you have any questions or concerns about your mouth guard, or to schedule an appointment to have one custom made, contact Kids Dental Group today at one of our convenient locations in Stouffville, Richmond Hill, and Markham.