Let’s get this out of the way: teeth break. There’s no way around that. Whether you play golf, box, ice hockey, basketball, football, lacrosse, Taekwondo, etc. There are simply too many ways for athletes and sports enthusiasts to break their teeth. Here are 5 other reasons why athletes should wear mouth guards whenever they’re participating in an activity they enjoy.
1. Prevent Injury
Dental injuries related to sports are a huge reason ER visits are so common. It is common sense that athletes who do not wear mouth guards will eventually hurt/break their teeth. They also reduce the risk of injury – a research study revealed that basketball had the highest number of dental injuries. This study doesn’t account for teenagers and children who didn’t report their injuries. Any sport that has contact can potentially be dangerous.
2. Oral Health
Teeth, gums, and lips seem to be constantly at risk – whether we’re playing sports or not. From diseases to stains or dryness, the health of our oral hygiene requires diligent maintenance. Mouth guards protect bridges, crowns, lips, and inner-cheeks (from being bitten). There’s a reason boxer the world over wears a guard: to protect their jaw from being smashed to pieces. This makes it easier to keep your oral health up.
Compared to dental repairs, mouth guards are phenomenally less expensive. Although dental costs depend on the treatment, knocked-out teeth generally cost $10,000-20,000 per tooth to replace. (This could be why a lot of my uncles—who played local hockey all their lives—never bothered with replants.)
4. Clenched Teeth
Teeth-clenching is nothing new. Everyday situations that cause stress result in clenched teeth or grinding. They’re simply responses to a stressor. The trouble is, this is responsible for unexplainable earaches, a sore jaw, sensitive teeth, earaches or chipped teeth. Chronic stress is well-known to put the health of your heart at risk. Health problems such as depression, anxiety, weight gain (and even heart disease) are just a few dangers. Mouth guards, by design, prevent clenched/grinding teeth.
There are two methods to get ahold of a mouth guard: from a store shelf or from an orthodontist. Usually, mouth guards purchased in the store have to be trimmed (or simply “boiled and bit”). Alternatively, dentists (or assistants who graduated from an orthodontist assistant school) take an impression of your mouth, and from that impression, a stone model is made. Then a mouth guard “blank” is melted, via a machine, onto the stone model. The blank–which now resembles your teeth–becomes the new guard. Tailored mouth guards stay in the mouth easier and are less likely to be bitten or chewed on.
Mouth guards are available in an endless variety of designs, materials (thermoplastic, ethylene-vinyl acetate, thermo-polymer), colors and sizes. Because of this, they don’t require a lot of maintenance: simply a toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of toothpaste. Seems similar to maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine, doesn’t it?
A mouth guard, we’ve just seen, is not something to take lightly. Even if you’re an athlete who doesn’t participate in contact sports, it is still wise to wear a guard. There simply is no way of knowing when an accident can happen; you may trip, for instance, and face plant into concrete. Personally, I would like to see riders and skaters wear a mouth guard in addition to their other safety equipment. Quite simply, guards help keep us practicing and performing the sport we’ve fallen in love with.
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