Sports Safety for the Mouth
By Wendy J. Garvin D.D.S
I have recently become a Carmel Dad’s Club sponsor and am excited to be a part of such a great organization. I have been in practice for 13 years and have encountered many incidences of dental trauma due to sporting activities and would like to share some information about dental injuries.
Thousands of school aged children play at least one organized sport and are most susceptible to sports-related oral injuries between the ages of 7 and 11 years old. It is estimated by the National Youth Sports Foundation that more than 5 million teeth will be knocked out in sporting activities this year. And even more teeth will be fractured. These types of injuries are easily preventable with a sport guard.
It is estimated that sport guards prevent 200,000 injuries a year in organized high school and college sports alone. Sport guards protect teeth, tongue, cheeks, lips and jaws from injury. It is the ability of the sport guard to act as a shock absorber and absorb the force that would otherwise be transmitted to the teeth. Therefore they protect teeth from fractures, cracks and loss. They also protect against more serious injuries such as concussions, jaw fractures, and neck injuries. They do this by not allowing the lower jaw and upper jaw from having direct contact during impact.
There are three basic types of sport guards: Stock, Boil and Bite, and Custom made sport guards. Recent dental studies show conclusive evidence that custom sport guards are the only guards that should be recommended by the dental professional.
The stock sports guard can be bought over the counter at sporting goods stores. These provide the least amount of protection. They are hard to wear because they provide no retention and can only be held in place by constantly biting into it. At impact they usually become dislodged because of their poor fit. Speaking and breathing are also difficult because of the lack of retention and bulk.
Boil and Bite sport guards are the most common sport guards used today. However, these guards do not provide adequate protection for the athlete. This type of guard relies on the patient to mold it properly to his or her own mouth. Unfortunately when the patient bites to mold it they usually bite too hard and the guard becomes too thin in the areas where the protection is needed the most. These also have the tendency to wear through after several uses. These guards give a false sense of protection to the athlete.
The custom sport guards are made by your dentist or dentists’ laboratory. They are custom fit to the athlete’s mouth and are constructed to provide the ultimate protection. They have excellent retention so that the athlete does not have to bite into it to keep it in place. This allows the athlete to be able to talk and breathe normally. Custom sport guards can be made for a child at any age and can even be made for children with braces.
Sports related injuries to the mouth and teeth are painful and parents always want to protect their children when possible. If you or your child participates in any of the following activities, the American Dental Association and the Academy for Sports Dentistry recommend that you wear a properly-fitted sport guard. These sports are Baseball, Basketball, Bicycling, Boxing, Field Hockey, Football, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Martial Arts, Soccer, Softball, and Volleyball. Your dentist can make you or your child a custom sport guard that is comfortable and offers superior protection. Since treating one fractured tooth or lost tooth can cost $2000-$3000, a custom sport guard is a worthwhile investment. Remember: The best sports guard is one that is worn.
Wendy Garvin D.D.S Member of the Academy of Sports Dentistry
2750 E. 146th Street
Carmel, IN 46033 317-581-0000