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Dental Injuries in Sports

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Mouth guards can help prevent dental injuries!

While a mouth guard may be an obvious necessity for players of contact sports such as football and boxing, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that participants in many non-contact sports also wear a mouth guard. 

People who play sports often require a lot of equipment, but one essential piece of sports equipment that is often neglected is a mouth guard.  Every year, thousands of athletes sustain injury to their teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongues that could have been prevented if they had been wearing a properly fitted mouth guard. 

While a mouth guard may be an obvious necessity for players of contact sports such as football and boxing, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that participants in many non-contact sports also wear a mouth guard.  Below is a partial list of sports for which the ADA recommends a mouth guard1:

  • Acrobatics
  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Boxing
  • Equestrian events
  • Extreme sports
  • Field events
  • Field hockey
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Ice hockey
  • Inline skating
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial arts
  • Racquetball
  • Rugby
  • Shot putting
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Soccer
  • Squash
  • Surfing
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

To be effective, a mouth guard should have several features.  It should be durable, resilient, and comfortable.  It is also important that a mouth guard be easy to clean, and that it not restrict the athlete's speech or breathing.  There are three different types of mouth guards:

  • Stock mouth guards, which are ready-made
  • Mouth guards that can be formed to the mouth at home, often referred to as "boil-and-bite" mouth guards
  • Mouth guards custom-made by a dentist

To determine which type of mouth guard is best for your individual purposes, it's best to consult with your dentist.  He or she can also instruct you on how to care for your mouth guard, but in general you should rinse the mouth guard with antiseptic mouth rinse before and after using it and store it in a firm container that is perforated to allow air circulation.  Also inspect your mouth guard for wear and tear, and replace it regularly to ensure optimal protection.

With the right mouth guard, athletes in every sport can be sure their teeth will remain protected.  That's something to smile about!

1http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_40.pdf

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