The Importance of Sports Mouthguards

October 21, 2016

We see it all too often, a missing tooth, a chipped tooth, or a cracked tooth that could have been avoided. What’s worse is that these mishaps happen frequently with children, since they’re usually active and often a bit more uncoordinated than adults. That’s why we stress the importance of wearing a mouthguard here at Hampden Dental Group – your Aurora dentist. We know how much you value your teeth, so protect those pearly whites and wear a sports mouthguard! Otherwise, you could end up with any of the dental injuries listed below! Let’s take a look at common sports-caused tooth injuries, and what you can do when an injury happens.

Tooth Fracture

A tooth fracture is an injury wherein a tooth is broken, chipped, or has a fracture within the root of the tooth. You may experience bleeding for broken, chipped, and fractured teeth. If you experience a tooth fracture, do your best to keep whatever’s left of the tooth stable. You can use a rag to mitigate the bleeding, but avoid pushing down on the rag with too much force, you could make the injury worse. If part of the tooth has become completely dislodged, try to attain the tooth fragment, we may be able to reattach it. You can keep the tooth in milk, saline-soaked gauze, or Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution. Also, if there’s no danger of choking or swallowing the fragment, the broken tooth fragment can be placed under the tongue of the injured person as they’re en route to an emergency dentist.

Tooth Luxation

On occasion, a tooth may simply shift position in a sports injury. A tooth can twist, be pulled outward, compressed into the jaw, pushed backward, or pulled forward. In all instances, leave the tooth as you’ve found it, and visit an emergency dental clinic. Your dentist will formulate the best course of action and will work with your tooth to increase its odds of survival.

Tooth Avulsion (Missing Tooth)

If a tooth is knocked entirely free of its socket, again, you’ll want to find the tooth and bring it with you to a dentist. You can clean a tooth with a quick rinse of water, and then transport it in the same manner as you would with a tooth fragment (mentioned above). If it’s possible, you can try to place the tooth back in its socket; this may help the tooth to survive.

The Mouthguard

Mouthguards are inexpensive, and they can save you from all of the aforementioned issues. You can spend a few bucks on a standard mouthguard, and save yourself (or your kiddo) from a mouthful of pain and a potentially expensive visit to the dentist! The American Dental Association recommends that athletes wear mouthguards if they practice any of the following sports: “acrobats[sic], basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.”

The ADA also recommends that you have a custom mouthguard made to improve protection of your teeth. However, standard mouthguards provide some protection against injury. Custom mouthguards may also be built to protect your teeth if you wear braces. These mouthguards are slightly larger and leave room for the brace structure.

Maintaining Your Mouthguard

Mouthguard maintenance is simple, but important. Keeping a clean mouthguard ensures that your teeth and gums aren’t subject to harmful bacteria while you’re out in the field, and making sure that your mouthguard is strong ensures that the likelihood of an injury is mitigated.

Cleaning Your Mouthguard

To clean your mouthguard, rinse it thoroughly, and clean it with a brush and toothpaste after use. Make sure that the mouthguard is allowed to dry in between uses. If you’re toting your mouthguard from place to place, keep it in a hard container that has ventilation holes; otherwise, bacteria can grow and glom onto your teeth while you’re playing your favorite sports.

Maintaining the Integrity of Your Mouthguard

If you have a custom mouthguard, bring it with you to your dental checkups. Have your dentist take a look. They can provide a thorough cleaning, and check the integrity of the mouthguard. Be sure to keep a lookout for tears or weaknesses. If the mouthguard is too loose while you’re wearing it, it’s time to replace it. Avoid leaving your mouthguard out in the sun (UV rays may damage the material) or in warm water (again, the strength of the mouthguard could be compromised and bacteria can build up).

Dental Emergencies

If you live here in Aurora, and happen to endure a dental injury, we provide emergency dental services! Get your tooth (or teeth) taken care of with a same-day appointment. Take note, if you have serious lacerations or bleeding, please visit the hospital for medical care.