Sports Guards Prevent Dental Injury

“Hey Mom! Do you remember those 32 teeth that I used to have?”, Bobby asked when he called his mother from the basketball court. This is the phone call that no parent wants to receive. While some sports injuries are unavoidable, damage to the teeth can be significantly reduced by wearing a sports guards.

What is a sports guard?

Sports guards protect your teeth from injury and should be worn during all sports and athletic activities. They are made of strong, durable plastic material that absorb shock and are available in a variety of colors and designs.

7% of all sports injuries are in the area of the faceIs sports guard essential sports equipment?

Yes, sports guards should be worn by anyone who plays contact sports like wrestling, squash, racquetball, hockey, boxing, football, soccer, lacrosse and baseball. People who participate in non-contact activities in which a mouth injury could occur should also wear a sports guard.  Dental injuries can occur during gymnastics, skateboarding and even biking. Professional and amateur athletes, adults and children should wear sports guards when practicing or competing.

What is the difference between a mouth guard and a sports guard?

Sports guards and mouth guards each have a different purpose. Mouth guards are usually worn at night to prevent tooth damage from grinding and bruxing or to maintain tooth position following orthodontics.  Mouth guards are usually hard plastic to protect against clenching and grinding. Sports guards are made of a thicker, more durable material to prevent injury and are usually flexible soft rubber or vinyl to protect against impact trauma.

Sports guards are available in many colors and designs are available.What sports guard to choose for safety and performance?

Inexpensive sports guards can be purchased in sporting goods stores but have several drawbacks. These one-size-fits-all devices do not provide the same level of protection as custom-made devices. The safest, highest quality sports guards are custom made by a dentist. These guards are individually designed in the dental office and fabricated in a dental lab. They offer the most protection and comfort.

Antionette Robinson, Certified Laboratory Technician at Pi Dental Center, states, “Whether you’ve had orthodontic treatment, crowns or implants, wearing a sports guard is important because it protects your investment in your teeth. Dental repairs are expensive. Keeping your teeth safe during athletic activities makes sense.”

An ideal sports guard is resilient yet comfortable and stays in place firmly during activities, allowing the wearer to speak clearly and breathe easily. A well-fitting sports guard makes you feel more confident and can actually improve your game.

How do I maintain my sports guard?

When your sports guard is not in use, it should be kept safely in its storage case. Wash the guard with cool water and soap after each use. Soaking your guard in mouthwash will help it to stay fresh. Avoid leaving your sports guard in direct sunlight or in a hot vehicle. High temperatures can damage your sports guard. Your sports guard may need to be adjusted periodically. Bring your sports guard to your dental visits for evaluation.

Before Sports Guards Were Used:

State-of-the-art sports equipment has not always been available. When Ted was playing high school football in 1957, helmets did not have masks. At age 16, Ted was a right defensive end for the Battlin’ Miners at Minersville High School in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Football was THE sport. There were only 100 kids in his graduating class and 2/3rds of them played football. In one game, all four of his front teeth were damaged when he took a hit to the mouth. They became loose a few days later and were extracted by his dentist. Ted had no front teeth at his high school graduation and for several years after that. Eventually, a removable flipper was made to hide the empty space. Later in life, Dr. Stout in Chestnut Hill delivered a fixed bridge. Ted was satisfied with his new teeth but, over time, the bridge’s supporting teeth required root canal treatment, then post and cores. Ultimately, the bridge needed to be replaced. The most cost effective solution was a dental implant supported prosthesis. Dr. Glenn Wolfinger placed a permanent prosthesis on four dental implants. Today Ted’s teeth look natural and feel better than they have in years.

What advice do we have for athletes and active people of all ages?

Wear a good quality sports guard! If today’s modern sports guards had been available in 1957, Ted might never have lost his teeth. One sports injury really did cause problems for a lifetime.

If a dental injury does occur, a prosthodontist can help.

Contact us if you have any questions, would like to have a sports guard made, or to schedule an appointment at Pi Dental Center.

Interesting statistics:

Although 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice, one-third of parents do not have their children take the same safety precautions at practice that they would during a game.

Safe Kids USA Campaign Web site. 2009.According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.

Chris Raines

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Pi Dental Center, Fort Washington, PA