The weather is warming up, and it’s time to get outside. If you or your kids enjoy sports, then you likely have plenty of sports equipment, including protective helmets, shin guards, and gloves. However, we often focus on protecting the head, arms, shoulders, and shins while neglecting the mouth. About a third of all dental injuries are sports related, and most of them can be prevented with a mouthguard.
Types of Mouthguards
No matter the game, there is always a risk for dental injury, even if it is not a contact sport like football or boxing. It is estimated that mouthguards prevent about 20,000 oral injuries every year, so it is worth considering some mouth protection when playing outside. There are various types of mouthguards to choose from, including the following:
- Stock: These are pre-molded guards available at most sports stores. They don’t tend to fit very well and can therefore be uncomfortable. They are, however, the least expensive.
- Boil and bite: Also available at most sports goods stores, “boil and bite” mouthguards are first softened in water for fitting. You then place it in your mouth to allow it to conform to your mouth’s shape.
- Custom-fitted: Mouthguards fitted by your dentist offer the best fit and level of comfort available. They are, however, the most expensive.
Any mouthguard is better than none, but if you can afford it, a boil and bite or custom-fitted guard is by far better than a stock guard.
Types of Dental Injuries
Crashing into objects or people, taking blows from equipment, and other impacts to the head or face can result in various types of dental trauma. This can cause damage to the teeth, gums, lips, tongue, and jaw, all of which can necessitate medical care. The teeth are especially at risk for injuries such as the following:
- Fracture: An impact directly to the tooth or which causes the jaw to clench can crack teeth. Various fractures can include root fractures, chipping on the crown, or a totally broken tooth.
- Avulsion: In some cases, the entire tooth may be knocked free, root and all. If this happens, it is important not to handle the root or let it come in contact with cleaning chemicals. The best way to care for a freed tooth is by briefly rinsing it and then placing it back in the socket (if possible). If you can get to a dentist within a half hour, there is a high chance of saving the tooth.
- Luxation: An impact may leave a tooth in the wrong position. Types of luxations include an extrusion (in which the tooth appears to be longer than others), an intrusion (when the tooth is pushed into the gum and looks shorter), or a lateral displacement (tooth is pushed back or pulled forward). If this occurs, do not attempt to reposition the tooth.
If a dental injury occurs, it is important to get professional help immediately. The best way to deal with these injuries, however, is prevention. A custom-fitted mouthguard will offer optimal protection while playing sports. At Lynn Dental Care, we are committed to giving your teeth the best protection available so you can play worry-free this summer, so give us a call today.