Most people today don’t drive without a seatbelt. Many won’t ride a bike, ski or snowboard unless they’re wearing a helmet. As we become increasingly conscious of safety in recreational activities, more and more people are looking for ways to prevent accidents and injury. If you participate in sports, there’s one excellent way to reduce the risk of oral or facial injury: Get a high-quality mouthguard that fits you just right; then, wear it every time you play.
What’s a mouthguard? Essentially, it is a dental appliance made of plastic or laminate that fits inside the mouth and covers the teeth. It is designed to prevent oral injuries by absorbing and dissipating the energy of an impact. First used by boxers in the early 1900’s, mouthguards are now required safety equipment in many professional and school sports leagues. Numerous studies have shown that athletes who don’t wear them are at significantly greater risk for injury. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) projects that the use of mouthguards could prevent 200,000 injuries each year.
There are essentially three types of mouthguards: Stock or “off-the-shelf ” types that come in just a few sizes and must be clenched between the teeth to stay in position; mouth-formed or “boil-and-bite” types that can be softened in hot water, and then adapted to the contours of the mouth by pressing with fingers, tongue and teeth; and mouthguards custom-made by a dentist, which are individually fabricated from a model of the athlete’s teeth.
While stock mouthguards offer some protection, their quality varies tremendously—and they are often uncomfortable to wear, which decreases their effectiveness. Boil-and-bite mouthguards offer better protection, and are also a bit more expensive. However, they don’t always fit as well as they should, and they seldom cover the whole bite. The best quality mouthguards are custom-fabricated by dentists. Reasonable in cost, and comfortable to wear, these also offer the best protection against injury.
Sure, if you’re playing football or hockey, you know you need a mouthguard. But do you really have to wear one for non-contact sports? The answer is yes—in fact, more adults suffer dental injury every year from playing basketball or baseball! These games, plus some two dozen other sports (including bicycling, surfing, handball and equestrian activities) are among those named by the ADA as having the potential to cause dental injury.
Of course, no piece of safety equipment is going to help you if you don’t wear it. When it comes to comfort, no other choice beats an individually fabricated mouthguard. What’s more, a recent study indicates that custom-made mouthguards offer twice as much the protection against concussion as an over-the-counter type.
So get out of your chair and enjoy all the benefits that come from a healthy, active lifestyle—but do it safely! You can eliminate the pain, lost time at work or school (and possibly some hefty medical bills) by preventing injuries before they happen. Wearing a mouthguard is a great way to protect yourself (and your kids) while you enjoy your favorite sports. To learn more call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.