The college basketball season is winding down. Spring training is underway for professional baseball teams. Closer to home, local athletes are getting ready for the springs sports season.
Sports are wonderful for a number of reasons. They are a good incentive to stay physically fit — whether you are a competitive or a recreational athlete. They provide an opportunity to bond with friends and even form new friendships. Plus, they can be a lot of fun to play or to watch.
Sports also can teach us lessons about the benefits of hard work and about learning to win gracefully and to handle the disappointment when we lose. While that is important, one thing we don’t want anyone to lose is their teeth.
Yet, this is a risk that most of us are aware of when we or someone we love steps onto the court, field, or mat. Athletic injuries are part of playing sports, and that includes dental injuries. This could mean a broken tooth, dislodged tooth, or teeth getting knocked out completely. In the United States, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year. The lifetime cost of replacing a missing tooth can be thousands of dollars.
There is something you can do to reduce your family’s risk of losing one of those teeth. You can make it a point to wear an athletic mouthguard any time you play or practice any high-impact sports. More specifically, you can get the most protection from a custom-fitted mouthguard, which we make as part of our general dentistry at Advanced Dental Center in Florence, SC.
Our goal is to help you keep your smile for life. Part of that is helping you and your loved ones protect your smiles against injuries.
To schedule an appointment to get a mouthguard for yourself or someone you care for, please call 843-627-4076.
Wearing A Custom Mouthguard Is Best
If you’ve ever been in a sporting goods store, then you are aware that you can get over-the-counter mouthguards. Wearing one of these can be better than wearing nothing to protect your teeth, but your smile deserves the best protection that you can provide.
To understand this a little better, let’s consider the different kinds of mouthguards you could get.
Stock mouthguards come in standards shapes and sizes. This may or may not match the shape of the arch of your teeth, and it even if it does, it may not feel comfortable in your mouth. As a result, these kinds of mouthguards have areas that are not in contact with your teeth. That affects how forces from a ball, a fall, or an accidental bump are distributed across someone’s mouth.
The next option is a boil-and-bite mouthguard. You may have worn one of these when you were younger, or your kids may have worn one of these already. As the name describes, you place these mouthguards in boiling water to soften them, then you bite down for a specified amount of time. The idea is that they will mold to the shape of the wearer’s teeth.
This is definitely an improvement over what stock mouthguards can do. To hold these mouthguards in place, the athlete needs to continue to bite down on them. Since these commercial mouthguards tend to be made of less durable materials, people often chew through them in time, making them much less effective at the one job they are intended to do. Research also suggests that many people will continue using these mouthguards after they have become worn out, again, reducing how effective they really are.
A custom-fitted mouthguard, which we make at our office, is designed from durable materials for your teeth. This provides more uniform protection throughout your smile. It’s also likely to last longer than anything you’ll find in stores.
Another important distinction between this and store-bought mouthguards is size. Commercial mouthguards can be bulky, making them uncomfortable to wear. This also can interfere with breathing, communicating with teammates and coaches, and drinking water. Most athletes can leave them in, breathe freely and easily, speak clearly, and stay hydrated during practices and games without removing their custom-made mouthguard.
Who Needs A Mouthguard
Frankly, anyone who plays a high-impact sport. You don’t have to be a collegiate or professional athlete to risk a dental injury. An elbow to the mouth in a recreational basketball league can be just as harmful as one in NBA game. Getting hit in the jaw with a baseball hurts whether you’re in a Little League game or the World Series.
As a general rule, high-impact sports include one or more of the following:
- Frequent changes in speed
- Frequent changes in direction
- Frequent jumping
- Flying objects, including balls, pucks, and discs
- Equipment that can be used to strike or hit something
Looking at the spring sports offered at South Carolina high schools, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, some track and field events, and tennis would all be considered high-impact sports.
Wearing a mouthguard won’t completely eliminate your risk of a dental injury, but it can greatly reduce that risk. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury than athletes who do wear them.
To think about this another way, a professional race driver would not get on the track in a car that has the same seat belt as your family vehicle. Instead, those drivers get in cars with a five-point harness system and a helmet. No driver wants to be in an accident, but they know that risk is much higher given the speeds involved in racing. The safety measures make it much more likely they can walk away from an accident without a serious injury.
In the same way, a custom-mouthguard is like that five-point harness system for your teeth. It’s not going to stop an accident from happening in the middle of a game, but it could be the difference between losing a tooth or having a sore lip.
It’s Time To Protect Your Smile
It’s never too early to get a mouthguard, but it can be too late. If you or someone in your family is involved in sports, today is the day to call 843-627-4076 or contact Advanced Dental Center online. Request your appointment as soon as you can, so you can get your custom-fitted mouthguard.