Did you know that April is National Facial Protection Month? The Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists have all agreed that April is a great time to talk about the importance of wearing mouthguards. A mouthguard is a device that is worn in the mouth to protect teeth and gums from injury. It can be used for both recreational and sports activities. There are many dental problems that can be avoided by wearing a mouthguard. In this blog post, we will take a deeper look at mouthguards and what dental problems they prevent.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a device that is worn in the mouth to protect teeth and gums from injury. It can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, rubber, or silicone. Depending on the sport, they can be made to fit the upper and/or lower teeth, as well as the gums.
Mouthguards can be purchased over-the-counter or custom-made by dentists. There are three different types of mouthguards:
- Stock mouthguards – These are the most common type of mouthguard and can be found at most sporting goods stores. They are made of rubber and fit over the upper teeth only. They are pre-formed and ready to wear, but may not be comfortable or fit well.
- Boil and Bite mouthguards – These mouthguards are made of thermoplastic material. They are placed in hot water to soften, then inserted into the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger pressure and biting down. Although they fit better than stock mouthguards, they still only provide limited protection. If you go this route, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Approval.
- Custom-made mouthguards – These mouthguards are made by dentists from models of your teeth. They offer the best fit, comfort, and protection. They are also made out of the strongest materials and can be customized depending on the sport.
Mouthguards are an important piece of safety equipment used for recreational and sports activities, such as:
- Martial arts
While mouthguards are not required for all of these activities, they are highly recommended. The American Dental Association offers a complete list of activities that recommend a mouthguard.
Dental Problems That Can Be Prevented by Wearing a Mouthguard
Mouthguards are designed to protect your teeth and gums from injury. Some of the most common dental problems that can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard include:
Chipped or Fractured Teeth
A mouthguard can help to absorb the impact of a fall or direct blow, which can prevent chips and fractures. Both chips and fractures can affect the look and function of you teeth. In some cases, severe tooth fractures or chips may even require the tooth be removed. By covering the teeth, mouthguards prevent them from damage.
Just as a mouthguard can protect the teeth from being damaged, a mouthguard can also help to protect the teeth from being knocked out. Additionally a mouthguard can also prevent the opposite of tooth loss, which is when the teeth are jammed down into the socket. Both injuries are potentially serious to your oral health and can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A mouthguard can help to prevent cuts and lacerations to the gums, insides of the cheeks, and tongue. In some cases, a mouthguard can even prevent the teeth from accidentally biting down on the tongue. Mouthguards can also protect the soft tissues from metal braces.
Although jaw fractures are not as common as other types of dental injuries, they can happen during sports play. Wearing a mouthguard helps to distribute any facial impact so that it minimizes the risk of fracturing the jaw.
Finally, wearing a mouthguard can also prevent or reduce the severity of a concussion. Although this is not a dental issue, it is a potentially serious injury that can be prevented. Since mouthguards position the mandible away from skull, this reduces the amount of force exerted on the back of the skull during impact.
In this blog, we have discussed the importance of mouthguards and how they can prevent various dental problems. We hope that this blog has helped to raise awareness about the importance of wearing a mouthguard during any recreational or sports activities. If you are participating in any recreational or sports activities, it is important to wear a mouthguard. Custom-made mouthguards offer the best fit, comfort, and protection. We would be happy to help you find the best type of mouthguard for your needs.
Happy National Facial Protection Month!
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.