The statistics are clear that sports and recreation are an obvious cause of dental injury: more than 3 million teeth will be knocked out in youth sporting activities this year. However, the evidence is also clear that wearing a mouth guard can prevent dental injury: an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard.
Mouth guards can prevent damage to the teeth, jaw and inside of the mouth by buffering the impact of a fall or blow to the head. They are mandatory for youth football, ice hockey, and lacrosse, but their use shouldn’t be limited to just those sports. It’s important to use a mouth guard during any activity where there is a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, including basketball, baseball, wrestling, bicycling, in-line skating, and martial arts.
Youth athletes have three different mouth guard options, ranging from pre-formed mouth guards from sporting goods stores to custom mouth guards from the dentist:
These mouth guards can be found at almost any sporting goods store and are inexpensive. They are pre-formed and are ready to wear right out of the package. Because they are generically formed, however, they may not fit your teeth and mouth very well. These mouth guards can be bulky which can make it hard to breathe and talk while wearing.
- Boil and Bite
Boil and bite mouth guards can also be found at most sporting goods stores and are inexpensive. These often fit much better than the Stock mouth guards because they can be formed to suit your mouth. The mouth guard is boiled in hot water to soften the plastic, and then it is inserted into your mouth. As the plastic cools, it shapes to fit around your teeth. However, you may still end up with a bulky mouthpiece, and getting the boil and bite method just right can be tricky.
You can get a mouth guard made specifically for your teeth from your dentist. The dentist will take a mold of your mouth and send it off to have a mouth guard made just for you. This requires visits to your dentist, and is also the most expensive way to get a mouth guard. This mouth piece will also fit you the best, which can lead to better comfort and more routine use.
Any mouth guard is better than no mouth guard, but it is important to find one that you will use regularly and that does not inhibit your breathing. It should fit comfortably, cover the teeth and gums, and remain securely in place.
For the past five years, Delta Dental of Tennessee and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl have partnered to help protect the smiles of youth across the state. Together, we have distributed more than 50,000 mouth guards.
To learn more about protecting your teeth and mouth, visit www.DeltaDentalTN.com/Wellness.
 Lollar, Jennifer. “Sports dental injuries are no laughing matter.” (2011, August 22). University of Alabama Birmingham News. http://www.uab.edu/news/latest/item/1577-sports-dental-injuries-are-no-laughing-matter
 Journal of the American Dental Association. “Protecting Teeth with Mouthguards.” (2006, December). American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_69.pdf