Dental Library- Mouth Guards
The majority of head injuries in contact sports occur to the mouth, and injuries to the teeth can be especially painful and require considerable damage repair. Using a mouth guard and proper headgear can prevent many such injuries and minimize the trauma in almost all sport related injuries. The maxillary (upper) anterior (front) teeth are especially vulnerable since they protrude the most. This means they are the first structures of the face to incur contact after the nose. This also means the maxillary anterior teeth often take the brunt of most frontal head injuries receiving most of the force of the impact. This also means they are subjected to the most sever types of injuries such as fracture, evulsions, intrusion and displacement.
Mouth guards prevent and minimize injuries to the teeth, jaw, lips, cheeks, tongue, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and can even prevent a concussion. Custom made mouth guards, which are specifically molded to the shape of the mouth and teeth, provide a superior fit and are the ultimate in mouth protection. During a child's life mouth guards need to updated and change on a regular basis since the child's dentition (teeth) is changing as they loose primary (baby) teeth and get their permanent (adult) teeth. It is essential to protect the primary teeth since they maintain the space needed for the permanent teeth to come in as straight and inline as possible. Not to mention avoiding the pain and dental treatment associated with sustaining a traumatic sports injury. Even for primary teeth the necessary dental treatment and expense can become quite extensive. Proper and timely dental treatment not only alleviates pain and restores the primary teeth to form, function and aesthetics it also protects the unerupted permanent teeth helping to ensure that they will erupt on time in the correct position and without pathology (disease or injury).
A good mouth guard will fit well and stay in place during any sports activity. It should be comfortable, sturdy and not interfere with talking or breathing. It is crucial to the child's well being that the mouth guard does not interfere or inhibit breathing in any way, this will also enable the child to play to his full potential. An inadequate oxygen supply will hinder all types of athletic performance. Caring for a mouth guard is a simple matter - after each use it only needs to be rinsed in cold water, and then frequently cleaned with every day soap and water or over the counter denture cleaners such as Polident or Effordent. It is best kept in clean water in a portable container to preserve its life, and needs to be replaced at the beginning of each season. This will ensure the proper fit in an ever-changing mouth, which in turn guarantees the best protection possible.
Whether it is street or ice hockey, soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball or little league baseball, mouth guards should be worn during all sporting activities along with protective headgear to further minimize the chance of injury.