Bethlehem Press

Monday, November 20, 2017

PDA reminds athletes to protect mouths

Thursday, September 7, 2017 by The Press in Sports

With a new school year already here, everyone anticipated the start of fall sports for many young athletes from elementary school age up to college level. To ensure that everyone participating has a safe and healthy season, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) would like to once again emphasize the importance of athletes wearing mouthguards to protect their oral health.

Chipped teeth are the most common of all dental injuries, with dislodged or knocked out teeth being less frequent, but more severe examples. Approximately one-third of all dental injuries are sports-related, so it is vital that athletes wear a mouthguard.

Many dental injuries that occur during sports are often preventable. Mouthguards help protect the teeth and mouth during sports that involve any level of contact, but they do much more than most people realize. It is more than just your teeth that are protected from trauma: your lips, tongue, cheeks, face and jaw also are cushioned from potential impact and injuries.

“As a root canal specialist, I often see preventable sports injuries,” said PDA president Dr. Bruce Terry, an endodontist in Wayne. “A simple mouthguard can save thousands of dollars and several dental visits.”

The cost of a mouthguard is far less than any visit to the dentist’s office to fix a damaged tooth, along with any other complications the injury could cause. One way to ensure mouthguards are used is for athletes to be educated on their proper use, and the importance of wearing them during physical activity.

There are several different types, so you can always discuss with your dentist which mouthguard option is best for you or your family members. Stock mouthguards are least expensive, but offer less protection because the fit adjustment is limited and sometimes they don’t fit as well. Boil and bite mouthguards are heated then placed in the mouth, and the guard molds itself to the teeth and sets. Custom-fitted guards are made by a dentist from a cast of the patient’s mouth. They are more expensive, but offer the best protection, fit and comfort.

A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed dental appliances on the lower jaw. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries.

There are even some types of mouthguards that can reduce the chances of a concussion caused by a blow to the jaw. One example of these is the Maher Guards that can be more effective in protecting against trauma.

As always, discuss any questions about mouthguards with your dentist.