Did you know that April is National Facial Protection Month? Sponsored by 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, April is a time to raise awareness about the importance of protecting your face and mouth from injuries. A big part of facial protection is wearing a mouthguard when playing sports or participating in other activities where you might get hit in the face. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of mouthguards by listing some of the dental problems that can be avoided by using a mouthguard.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a device that is worn over the teeth and gums to protect them from injury. Mouthguards are usually made of rubber or plastic and are used in various sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse, and boxing.
Mouthguards offer protection for your teeth, lips, tongue, and inner lining of your cheeks. They help to cushion a blow to the face, which might otherwise result in serious dental injuries.
There are different types of mouthguards such as one size fits all, boil and bite, and custom-made.
- One size fits all mouthguards are the least expensive and can be bought at most sporting goods stores. However, these tend to lack a proper fit and can sometimes do more harm than good. In a bind, they are usually better than nothing, but they are not usually recommended by dental professionals.
- Boil and bite mouthguards are also available at sporting goods stores. They are made of thermoplastic material that becomes soft when boiled in water. These mouthguards can be molded to fit your teeth but they don’t always provide the best fit. Be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Approval for the best over the counter mouthguards.
- Custom-made mouthguards are made by your dentist and provide the best fit and protection for your teeth. Because they offer the best fit and are made from quality dental materials, custom-made mouthguards are the most highly recommended by dental professionals.
Types of dental injuries that can be prevented by mouthguards
There are various types of dental injuries that can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard. Here are some examples:
When you get hit in the mouth, there is a risk of breaking or chipping your teeth. Chipped or cracked teeth weaken the overall structure of your tooth and can increase the risk of tooth decay and pulp infections. Not only that, but chipped teeth can affect the look of your smile. Wearing a mouthguard minimizes the chances of your teeth becoming cracked or chipped after being hit in the mouth.
Knocked Out Teeth:
Another risk of being hit in the mouth is having one or more teeth knocked partially or completely out of their socket. In these cases, the affected tooth may be able to be restored or it may need to be replaced by a prosthetic tooth. The opposite of having a tooth knocked out can also happen. Instead of being knocked out of the socket, sometimes teeth can be driven further into the socket and jawbone. In these cases, surgery may be needed to restore the tooth’s natural position.
A blow to the mouth can cause the roots of your teeth to fracture. While a fractured crown can usually be repaired, a fractured tooth root is much harder to deal with. In many cases the tooth will end up needing to be extracted to prevent bacteria from entering the fracture and causing an infection.
The jaw is susceptible to fractures from a blow to the face. Wearing a mouthguard can help to protect your jaw from injury by providing additional support and absorbing some of the impact.
Although this is not necessarily a dental problem, concussions are another risk of being hit in the face. While wearing a mouthguard won’t necessarily prevent a concussion, it can reduce the severity of a concussion. This is because mouthguards hold the mandible slightly forward, which creates a space between the jawbone and the skull. This reduces the overall force being transferred to the back of the skull when being hit in the face.
As you can see, there are many dental problems that can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard. So, if you play any sports or participate in any activities where there is a risk of getting hit in the face, be sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaw. And, if you have any questions about mouthguards, be sure to ask your dentist. They will be able to help you find the best type of mouthguard for you. Thanks for reading and, until next time, keep smiling!