Autumn is just around the corner, so it’s time for everyone’s favorite time—sports season! Here at Sohn Orthodontics, many of our patients are student-athletes or active in sports in the community. Now is the perfect time to learn how mouthguards can keep smiles safe for any athletic event. Keep reading to understand the importance of wearing a mouthguard during orthodontic treatment.
Why athletic mouthguards are important
As crucial as helmets and padding are when participating in sports, mouth protection is essential for oral safety. While they may not be the first thing you consider when considering contact sports, adequately fitted mouthguards prevent lost or dislodged teeth due to sports injuries. These types of injuries are easily preventable using a properly fitting mouthguard.
When it comes to preserving your teeth, mouthguards are the simplest and most effective solution. They’re affordable, easy to use, and can help prevent damage from occurring even when used in high-contact sports like football and hockey.
Mouthguards are for more than just sports where heavy contact is expected. They offer cushioning during light contact or low-impact sports, too. Mouthguards are helpful as even small amounts of pressure can cause the braces to irritate the mouth and cause small cuts to the gums and cheeks.
Sports-related injuries can also lead to displaced and broken teeth and broken bones in the jaw. If the teeth are not properly protected, the impact on the mouth can be much more intense and increase the risk of concussion.
Not only that, but the potential damage can also have far-reaching effects. Some neck and jaw injuries plague athletes with stiffness and pain for years. Additionally, if a permanent tooth is significantly damaged, the child athlete must maintain the broken tooth for a lifetime with restorations, crowns, and/or dental implants.
Who needs a mouthguard?
Mouthguards are an excellent investment in any patient’s dental health. While a custom-fitted mouthguard is ideal, we encourage any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports.
Because dental injuries can be easily prevented with a mouthguard, we recommend wearing them when participating in competitive and recreational sports, particularly where impact, contact, or collision are likely to occur. The American Dental Association advocates for using a properly-fitted mouthguard during physical activities, some of which are listed below:
- Martial Arts
- Water polo
- Field and Ice Hockey
- Equestrian Events
- Field Events
- In-Line Skating
- Any “Extreme Sports”
Different types of mouthguards
There are generally three categories of mouthguards. These vary in cost, adaptability, comfort, and protection levels.
These are the most common kind of mouthguard and tend to be available at most sporting goods stores. They are the least expensive type of mouthguard and don’t require any visits to the dentist, making them a good choice for budget-conscious athletes.
Ready-made mouthguards are only available in a limited range of sizes and only stay in place when the mouth is closed. It can be less effective than other mouthguards because it is not adapted to the patient’s mouth. We have these at the office (and they fit over braces!) and would be happy to give you one.
Mouth-formed (boil and bite)
These mouthguards are self-adapting and get softer in hot water. Once it cools, you’ll insert it into the mouth. It’ll adapt to bite pressure with guidance from the tongue and fingers. If necessary, Dr. Sohn can assist with the final molding. This can be particularly helpful during orthodontic treatment with braces. This type of mouthguard is also widely available at various sports stores and is generally designed for home use.
Custom mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices. They are created using impressions from a patient’s mouth and provide the best fit, adaptability, and comfort. While they are the most expensive option and will require a visit to the office, custom-made mouthguards are the absolute best way to fully protect the mouth when participating in sports of any kind.
While these mouthguards vary in price and comfort, all protect from injury. Whatever type of mouthguard is selected, it should be comfortable, tear-resistant, and made of a resilient material. It should also fit comfortably and securely, be easy to clean, and possess high-impact energy absorption that will reduce transmitted forces in case of an impact. Mouthguards should never restrict breathing.
As effective as mouthguards can be, we still ask that patients contact our office as soon as possible if the mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports. Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend an emergency dental appointment.
Caring for a mouthguard
To help extend the life of a mouthguard, rinse it before and after each use. A toothbrush and toothpaste can also be used to clean a mouthguard. You should clean mouthguards occasionally by gently rubbing them in cool soapy water. Always rinse it thoroughly when you finish to prevent any buildup.
Keep your mouthguards in the container, and never leave them in the sun or hot water. Check for wear and tear regularly and replace the mouthguard when necessary.
You shouldn’t wear removable appliances like retainers with a mouthguard for the best results. Put a mouthguard in for practice sessions and games because you never know when accidents can happen.
Dr. Sohn also recommends visiting the dentist before every playing season and maintaining regular dental check-ups throughout the year.
Protect your smile with Sohn Orthodontics
Protecting the teeth and mouth with a mouthguard is essential for anyone participating in organized sports or other recreational activities, especially if you have braces or aligners. Mouthguards are an essential piece of gear that should be part of any athlete’s equipment bag from an early age!
Although any mouthguard will offer some protection, a custom-made mouthguard offers the best fit, most comfort, and highest effectiveness. Schedule a free consult with our Bridgeville office to learn more about mouthguards and find your perfect fit.