Gear Up Right with Custom-made Mouthguards

“13-39% of all dental injuries are sports-related,” as stated in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Mouthguards are protective devices for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, jaws, arches, lips and gums1. They are designed to absorb and distribute the forces of impact received while participating in contact sports—reducing the risk of sports-related dental injuries. An athlete who does not wear a mouthguard can be susceptible to concussions, jaw injuries, and dental injuries.

Although mouthguards are necessary, choosing the right type is the key to receiving the highest level of protection recommended by dentists. Three types exist—stock, “boil-and-bite,” and custom-made—yet custom-made mouthguards are the only ones that are designed specifically for the individuals own teeth to promote comfort and effective protection. In fact, the Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends the use of a properly fitted mouthguard and “encourages the use of a custom fabricated mouthguard made over a dental cast and delivered under the supervision of a dentist”2.

TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS

“Mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year,” according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Custom-made mouthguards are the safest choice and knowing the difference will help you make the right decision for you and/or your child’s dental health.

Stock or ready-made

Pre-formed shape manufactured in various sizes but with nearly no adjustment to fit user’s mouth.

Mouth adapted or “boil-and-bite”

Pre-formed shape manufactured with thermo-plastic material that can be adapted to fit more closely to an individual’s teeth and gums, by heating and molding the material with boiling water and then placing it in the mouth.

Custom-made

With the dental impression taken from your dentist, a precise model of your teeth is sent to a dental lab in order to fabricate a custom mouthguard that meets the exact design requirements set by the dentist. The thermo-plastic material is adapted over the dental model with a pressure “thermo-forming” machine, then trimmed and polished to allow for proper tooth and gum adaptation1. Different thicknesses are available that are designed specifically to promote comfort and effective protection, but are not bulky or constricting which is a common misconception.

CUSTOM MOUTHGUARDS HELP PROTECT ATHLETES FROM…

TMJ (Jaw Joint) Trauma – The potential for jaw joint fracture and displacement is reduce when the properly fitted mouthguard cushions against impact energy.

Concussions – With a properly fitted mouthguard, a space is created between the jaw and the base of the skull. This helps protect the brain from concussions by preventing the jawbone from slamming into the skull and creating shock waves to the brain.

Lacerations – They aid in protecting the soft tissues of the lips, cheeks, tongue and gums by covering the sharp surfaces of the teeth.

Mouth Impact – Possible damage to the soft tissues of the lips, cheeks, tongue and gums, as well as the teeth and upper jaw.

Direct Jaw and Chin Impact – Causes possible damage to the teeth, jaws and TMJ.

WHY CHOOSE A CUSTOM-MADE MOUTHGUARD?

According to the Academy of Sports Dentistry, the best mouthguard is custom designed by a dentist and made from the exact model of the individual’s own teeth which provides the best level of protection. “Athletes have a 33-56% chance of receiving an orofacial injury during their playing career,” pursuant to a study called Sports-related dental injuries and sports dentistry. Dental and orofacial (relating to the mouth and face) injuries can lead to many serious concerns: difficult eating, financial distress, aesthetic concerns, speech impediments, emotional distress and much more.

Benefits of Using Custom-made Mouthguards

Reduces G-force impact to the jaw and head
Comfortable fit allows clear communication
Unobstructed breathing for better athletic performance
Fits precisely and snugly to protect teeth, gum tissue and supporting bone
Greatest durability and tear resistant
Adequate thickness in critical areas where it is more effective in absorbing impact energy
The thicker materials (3-4mm) are more effective in absorbing impact energy and are not bulky or uncomfortable as some may believe
Costs vary but are generally in the $100 to $200 range

Drawbacks of Using Off-the-Shelf Mouthguards

Offer minimal protection for the gums and supporting bone
The material used is normally thinner than is recommended by dentists
The fit is not exact and not as comfortable
They often fall out and can become loved in your throat
Non-custom products are less durable
Trouble breathing – a study of over 500 rugby players revealed a significant number had problems breathing when wearing off-the-shelf mouthguards

REQUIRING MOUTHGUARDS IN SPORTS

Currently, the National Federation of State High School Associations mandates mouthguards for only four sports: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends wearing mouthguards for all of the following sports: basketball, baseball/softball, boxing, wrestling, rugby, soccer, skateboarding, snowboarding, racquetball, skiing, weight lifting, bicycling, water polo, acrobatics, field events, volleyball, surfing, sky diving, line skating, scooter-riding, gymnastics, handball, shot putting, squash, equestrian events, martial arts, and extreme sports.

HOW DO I GET A CUSTOM-MADE MOUTHGUARD?

Visit your local dentist to get a custom-fabricated mouthguard to ensure your dental health is protected from damaging and expensive sports-related injuries. “Victims of knocked out teeth who do not have a tooth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of 10,000 to $20,000 per tooth,” as reported by the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.

Dental-related injuries can be avoided using custom-made mouthguards

References:

1. http://www.dentalcare.com/media/en-us/education/ce127/ce127.pdf

2. http://www.academyforsportsdentistry.org/assets/docs/mouthguard%20flyer%20text%20only%20with%20logo%20athlete%20resources.pdf

3. http://www.deardoctor.com/articles/athletic-mouthguards/page2.php#sthash.kH6DmgaV.dpuf

4. http://www.aans.org/patient%20information/conditions%20and%20treatments/sports-related%20head%20injury.aspx

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