Certain sports naturally put your face in danger — flying pucks, thrown bats, errant elbows, and misaimed balls can all take out your teeth. Mouthguards protect your smile from severe damage and may even keep you in the game. But not every athlete gets the most out of their mouthguard.
Here, our team at OK Tooth in Midtown, New York, explains what a mouthguard can do for you and what you can do to reap the most benefits from it.
Why you need a mouthguard
You may be tempted to play without a mouthguard, thinking that the odds of getting hit in the face are minimal. But the statistics tell a different story:
- Up to 39% of all dental injuries are sports-related
- 5 million people have a tooth knocked out every year, many of them athletes
- Men are twice as likely as women to experience tooth trauma
- Overall, Americans spend about $500 million a year replacing lost teeth with bridges, dentures, and dental implants
These numbers should be enough to convince all athletes to wear a mouthguard, but studies show that only about 7% of soccer, baseball, and softball players opt to protect their teeth with a mouthguard. Only two-thirds of football players — a sport that mandates mouthguards — wear them.
Another study looked into high school basketball players in Florida and found that 31% of them sustained mouth injuries; 53% sustained more than one. Yet less than half of them wore mouthguards. Of those who did, only two players sustained an oral injury.
Wearing a mouthguard works. Here’s how to get the most out of yours.
Wear your mouthguard
It may seem obvious, but many athletes who own a mouthguard never use it, or they use it inconsistently. It only works if it’s in your mouth.
Make sure your mouthguard fits
You have options when it comes to mouthguards: You can buy a ready-made product, get a boil-and-bite version that molds to your mouth, or come in to see us for a custom-fitted mouthguard.
The right fit is essential for two important reasons:
- If it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it
- If it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t protect your teeth well
And if you wear braces, you need a professional fit to cover your hardware.
Don’t chew on your mouthguard
The star point guard of the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry, famously chews on his mouthguard during games. He flips it around in and out of his mouth, gnawing on it more like a dog’s chew toy than an important dental appliance. Although we’re glad he uses a mouthguard, this sets a bad example for other athletes — especially kids.
Chewing on your mouthguard wears down the enamel on your teeth and leaves them vulnerable to chips, fractures, infection, and decay. It also creates tiny tears and scratches in the material that harbor bacteria and compromises the integrity of the appliance, wearing it down and rendering it useless.
Keep your mouthguard clean and protected
When you get your mouthguard at OK Tooth, we make sure you know how to care for it properly so it will serve you well and last all season. This includes gently brushing it after use, storing it in a protective case, and avoiding extreme temperatures.
To get a perfect-fitting mouthguard that feels great and protects your smile without distracting you from your game, schedule an appointment at OK Tooth for a custom-made mouthguard. Request an appointment online anytime, or call our friendly staff Monday through Friday.