Schools will soon be back in session, which means athletes are gearing up for an active season! While everyone is excited to get back out there on the field, it’s important to stay safe while doing so. A startling 75% of injuries to high school athletes occurred when they did not wear mouth guards. To avoid having to make an emergency dentist’s appointment, check out these important facts every athlete and parent should know about mouth guards.

It protects your teeth.

If you play a contact sport, you need to protect your mouth with a mouth guard, which typically protects the upper teeth. Your front teeth naturally stick out further than the rest of your bite, which makes them particularly vulnerable to injuries when receiving trauma to the face. Your bottom teeth, on the other hand, are usually safer, as they’re further back.

Playing without the protection of a mouth guard can lead to serious injury to the teeth, tongue, cheeks, and other areas of the mouth. Mouth guards act as an absorber for the shock and trauma that will be experienced when playing a sport. Whenever an impact happens to the teeth, lips, jaws, or face, the force will be distributed evenly, with the mouth guard receiving most of the energy. It prevents athletes from having chipped or broken teeth, and they can avoid fractures in the jaw area.

You have options

There are three main types of mouth guards: boil and bite, stock, and custom-made.

  • Boil and bite mouth guards are typically sold at many sporting goods outlets. First, you’d put them in hot water, and then you’d bite them to form them to the shape of your mouth. When purchasing these mouth guards, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance—this helps ensure these materials are safe for your teeth.
  • Stock mouth guards are your next option. These are inexpensive and come ready to wear. That said, they often don’t fit very well as they come pre-formed. The pre-formed fit makes them particularly bulky and can inhibit your breathing and talking. With wearing a stock mouth guard, you run the risk of it fitting too tight or loose. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also doesn’t cushion your teeth as a custom mouth guard would.
  • Custom-made mouth guards are your best option for keeping your teeth safe and provide the most comfortable fit. Your dentist at Guillot Dental will take an impression of your teeth, which is used to create a mouth guard made specifically for you. While these can be a more expensive option, they are also built to protect your individual smile and save you a lot of money in dental repairs should you get injured.

Mouth guards are a must for those with braces.

For those with braces, a properly fitted mouth guard is essential. Mouth guards will protect your brackets as well as your cheeks and lips should a blow to the face occur. You’ll need a braces mouth guard that is custom fit to ensure it fits properly. A mouth guard that is too tight will stop your braces from moving your teeth. A loose mouth guard can snag on your braces during impact to cause tooth and orthodontic damage.

Care for your mouth guard

There are several precautions you can take to ensure your custom-fit mouth guard stays in good condition.

  • Clean it between games by rinsing it or brushing it with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Clean the mouth guard in cool, soapy water regularly. Then, rinse it well.
  • Bring your mouth guard to your regular dental check-ups for evaluation.
  • Use a sturdy, ventilated container to protect your mouth guard.
  • Keep your mouth guard away from the sun or hot water.
  • Store your mouth guard in a safe place.
  • Replace your mouth guard if it has signs of wear and tear.

Guillot Dental wants to ensure that while you play your best game, that your teeth are protected. Make an appointment with us today to get fitted for your mouth guard before the athletic season starts. If you find yourself in the unfortunate event of an oral injury from a contact sport, don’t hesitate to make an emergency dentist appointment at our Lafayette or Broussard location.