Children, teens, and adults who engage in sports protect their bodies by wearing helmets, elbow and knee pads, shin guards, shoulder pads, and chest protection. Athletics require the use of protective gear to guard the body and to shield the core and limbs from injury. The mouth must be considered as well. Dr. Ann Kelley and the team at Kingsgate Dental Clinic in Kirkland, WA offer custom sport mouth guards to protect patients’ mouths from injuries during athletic activities.
Also called simply a mouth guard or mouth protector, a sports mouth guard is a device worn to protect the teeth if physical contact is made with the face or head. Although they are generally worn for sports that involve physical contact, even non-contact or individual sports athletes may consider wearing a mouth guard.
Mouth guards are important for athletes participating in sports that may involve falls, physical contact, or flying equipment. These sports may include football, basketball, baseball, rugby, lacrosse, hockey, martial arts, wrestling, skateboarding, and more. If you are involved in any activity that may result in an injury to the mouth, a sports guard should be worn for protection. For these activities, many sports, leagues, or schools require the use of a mouth guard.
A mouth guard covers the upper teeth. It protects against broken teeth, lost teeth, soft tissue damage, cut lips, and damage to your mouth. Patients who have braces or dental restorations on their lower teeth may be advised to wear mouth guards on those teeth as well.
When searching for a mouth guard it is important to find one that is easy to clean, resilient, tear-resistant, and comfortable. The device should fit properly so it does not interfere with your natural speech or breathing. There are three kinds of mouth protectors:
Stock guards are the most basic. They are usually inexpensive and are formed so they are ready to wear. This design does not fit everyone and may not fit comfortably or properly. The design may be bulky causing interference with your speech and breathing. Stock guards provide the least amount of protection against injury.
Boil and bite mouth guards are also already formed, but the shape can be altered. This is done by boiling the device in water and then biting the warm plastic creating a more customized fit. These guards are available at sporting goods stores. It is important to follow the instructions closely as it is easy to end up with a device that fits poorly.
Custom-made sports guards are created individually for each patient. Your dentist designs a mouth guard using impressions of your teeth. These mouth guards fit the most comfortably and offer the best protection. Wearing a mouth guard during athletic events reduces the risk of an oral injury if the individual falls, is hit with a piece of equipment, or experiences physical contact.
Although widely available online or in sporting goods stores, a well-made sports mouth guard from your dentist can limit jaw injury or a concussion. Retail mouth guards are not properly designed to meet standards for optimal safety and efficiency. Without an appropriate, comfortable fit, patients are less likely to wear the device. It is important to have the proper gear designed by your dentist to improve patient compliance in wearing the device and its effectiveness at protecting the teeth and soft tissues.
Proper cleaning and care help maintain your mouth guard, adding to its effectiveness and longevity.
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