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Score Big on Dental Safety: Protecting Your Winning Smile With Mouth Guards

Score Big on Dental Safety: Protecting Your Winning Smile With Mouth Guards

Score Big on Dental Safety: Protecting Your Winning Smile With Mouth Guards
Dr. Jones
April 25, 2024

Delta Dental’s 2018 survey on adult oral health found one important thing. People put more importance on their smile and oral health when it comes to confidence than they do their outfits or hair. Oral health counts more than body shape or clear skin. The responses on self-confidence and self-esteem ranked those criteria in this order.

  • Oral health – 60%
  • Clear skin – 60%
  • Body/Physical fitness – 57%
  • Smile – 53%
  • Hair – 45%
  • Clothes – 40%

That’s adults. Teens also have their own rankings. One study of 413 students, aged 13 to 18, found that the older a kid became, the more poorly they ranked their smile. Almost 15% of students ranked their dental aesthetics far more negatively than dentists.

It’s clear that how a smile looks is important at any age. One problem that people encounter at any age is the risk of damage to permanent teeth when participating in outdoor activities and sports. A mouth guard is usually mandatory for kids when participating in a team sport. Adults may not use one, though they should. Kids who play outside on bikes, skateboards, or playground equipment also benefit from mouth guards. 

What is a mouthguard and how does it help? Take an in-depth look at the value of mouth guards in sports and when enjoying physical activities outside. You’ll learn more about the different types, how to choose the best one for your needs, and how to take care of it.

The Importance of Mouthguards During Outdoor Activities and Sports

Mouth guards are protective devices, usually made of a material like plastic, that protect the teeth from damage during sports or other physical activities. Many team sports require the use of a mouth guard, but it is just as important to wear them when you’re scrimmaging with friends.

Common dental injuries include chipped or knocked-out teeth. Jaw bone injuries and cuts with teeth going through a lip or gum are also prevalent.

The ADA reports that about 30% of collisions in a game or practice result in damage to the teeth. Upwards of 60% of players who skip a mouth guard end up with tooth injuries. Dental injuries in players who wear mouth guards are under 8%.

The Different Types of Mouthguards

When you’re shopping for mouth guards, you have three options.

Stock Mouth Guards

A stock mouth guard is a basic mouth guard that comes in different sizes. Pick the best size for your needs, but you should realize the size may not mean much. One brand of mouth guards sizes things by your height. A medium/large is for an athlete 5’ 6”, while a large is for someone 6’ or taller. There are also one-size-fits-all for people over 4’ or 5’ or a youth device for kids under 5’. 

Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards

This type of mouth guard is a pliable material that you boil in water for a certain amount of time, cool in ice water long enough to prevent burns, and then fit it into your mouth while it’s still pliable. This ensures a good fit, which makes it a better choice than a stock fit.

Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards

To get a custom-fitted mouth guard, you go to your dentist. An impression of your teeth is taken and the mouth guard is made from that impression. They are the best-fitting mouth guard, and they’re best for comfort and protection. It’s the best choice if you wear braces or want to protect your teeth in high-contact sports.

Tips for Choosing the Best Mouthguard

What are the questions to ask yourself when shopping for a mouth guard? There are three questions to ask yourself.

What Is My Budget?

There’s no point in shopping for a mouth guard without having a budget in mind. Ideally, have a desired price point and one that you absolutely cannot exceed. As you figure out your budget, remember that a pricier custom-fit mouth guard might offer the best long-term protection.

A low price point will protect your mouth, but it might not last long. You’ll be replacing it sooner than in others. Consider the replacement costs as you make your decisions.

What Do I Need the Mouth Guard For?

If you’re in a high-contact sport like football, you’ll need a mouth guard that provides optimal protection. If you’re wearing it for skateboarding, a helmet with a built-in mouth guard. 

Does It Fit?

This is tougher and a reason why we feel a custom-fit mouth guard is the best option. If a mouth guard doesn’t feel comfortable, you’re less likely to wear it. It needs to fit correctly over your teeth without pinching or digging into your gums or making it hard to talk to your team mates or friends.

Getting the Right Fit and Taking Care of Your Mouthguard Properly

Choosing a mouth guard is part of the process, but you need one that fits correctly. Once you’ve purchased a mouth guard, you need to take care of it. Our tips for getting the best fit and then taking care of the mouth guard you choose are important.

When you go to fit your mouth guard, follow the directions. If you have a boil-and-bite mouth guard, make sure you boil it long enough. A stock mouth guard is one-size-fits-all, but that’s not always going to work. You might find it uncomfortable to wear if you’re not allowed to trim it. 

After a game, practice, or scrimmage, check your mouth guard for any cracks or tears. If there is any sign of damage, replace it. If it’s okay, clean it thoroughly in cool water using a soft-bristled toothbrush and white vinegar. Rinse it well and dry it completely before returning it to your case. 

Finally, make sure you go to your dentist for regular checkups. Your dentist can make sure your mouth guard fits properly and isn’t damaging your gums. If there are issues, it’s important to talk about a custom-fitted mouth guard.

Other Things to Consider

If you’re in multiple sports, have different mouth guards. The blow to the mouth in basketball isn’t the same as in baseball. You need to have the right mouth guard for the sport.

There’s also a type of mouth guard that prevents grinding your teeth at night. If you play sports during the day and grind your teeth when you sleep. You’ll also need to have multiple mouth guards.

If you’re wearing braces, you need a different mouth guard than someone without braces. protect both your teeth and your orthodontic appliances. If you wear Invisalign, you won’t need the same type of mouth guard as someone wearing traditional braces needs.

Work With a Dentist for the Best Mouth Guard

Dr. Jody Jones helps new and established clients protect their ideal smile. If you play sports or participate in activities that could damage your teeth, wear a mouth guard. Our team can help you get the best mouth guard for your needs. You’ll have a mouth guard that fits correctly and is relatively comfortable to wear. Reach us online or by phone. 

Did you suffer a blow to the mouth that cracked or broke a tooth? Reach out to Jody Jones DDS for immediate treatment. If you have a tooth that got knocked out, put it in milk and give us a call for an immediate appointment or help putting it back in the socket.