The fall season is fast approaching, and for many of us, this is the time of year to start gearing up for our favorite sports activities. No matter which sport you play, there is one essential item you should definitely add to your equipment list: a mouth guard.
This small oral device is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can wear to protect your teeth and jaw from a variety of sports-related injuries including chipped or broken teeth, broken bones, and facial lacerations. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), mouth guards prevent over 200,000 oral injuries each year, so if you play any kind of high-impact sport (e.g., football, ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, etc.), one of the best ways to reduce your risk of sustaining a dental injury is by wearing a protective mouth guard.
The Three Types of Mouth Guards
There are three main types of mouth guards:
1. Stock mouth guards: These are basically pre-formed mouthpieces that are sold ready-to-wear, and they typically come in small, medium and large sizes. Since these mouthpieces cannot be customized by the wearer, they are often ill-fitting, which means they can slip around in your mouth during gameplay. While stock mouth guards are the least expensive of the three, they provide the lowest level of protection as well.
2. Boil-and-bite mouth guards: These mouthpieces have a pre-formed shape, but they can be further customized by boiling them in water and then biting into the softened plastic to create a customized fit. Boil-and-bite mouth guards are by far the most popular protective mouthpiece in use today because they offer much better protection than stock mouth guards while still remaining very cost-effective.
3. Custom mouth guards: As the name implies, these mouthpieces are custom made in a dental laboratory, and are designed specifically to fit the individual who will wear them. The mouthpiece is created by taking dental impressions of the wearer and then modeling the mouth guard to fit those impressions. Although custom mouth guards are the most expensive of the three, they do offer the highest level of comfort and performance.
No matter which one you choose, your mouth guard should be comfortable, tear-resistant and highly resilient. In addition, it should fit well enough to where your breathing and speech are not restricted.
Mouth Guards: The Pros Wear Them, and So Should You!
So is wearing a mouth guard really all that important? If professional sports is any indication, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” If you’re a football fan, more than likely you’ve seen some of your favorite players wearing mouth guards out on the gridiron. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is well-known for sporting his neon green mouth guard during game time, and there are quite a few NFL players who even have specially designed mouth guards that feature cool graphics as well (see former Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman’s “vampire” mouth guard for a good example). NBA great Stephen Curry is so well-known for his mouth guard usage that entire articles have been written about it, and over 30 different Twitter accounts (including this one) have been created just to chronicle the lives of his excessively-chewed mouthpieces.
From basketball and football to boxing and hockey, the importance of wearing a mouth guard is well understood by professional athletes. If the most skilled players in the world of sports see the need for this vital piece of equipment, how much more should we?
As the official dentist for the Cincinnati Bengals, West Chester Dental Group understands just how important it is for athletes to protect themselves with mouth guards. With the season just getting started for so many different sports, now would be a good time to start shopping around for a quality mouthpiece that will offer comfort and protection while you’re out playing your favorite sport.
Our team of dental professionals is more than willing to help you weigh out your options, so please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. Here’s to a safe and productive sports season!