The Importance Of Using Mouthguards When Playing Sports

By Dr. Christopher Li, DDS

December 10, 2022

dental injury, mouthguards, oral injury, sports mouthguards

If you play sports, or if you’re a regular spectator, you’ve probably noticed an increase in the number of athletes using mouthguards when playing sports. As technology improves and there is more information available about protecting your teeth and gums, it’s easy to see the importance of mouthguards in sports. Dental procedures to repair damaged teeth such as dental implants, crowns, and veneers have also come a long way in recent years, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your natural teeth if you don’t have to.

Benefits Of Wearing A Mouthguard

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When you wear a mouthguard while playing sports, you can feel confident that you’ve taken important steps to protect your natural teeth and prevent a range of different injuries. Choosing to wear a sports mouthguard is a wise preventative measure because it will help protect against:

  • Complete tooth loss
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Damage to dental work you’ve previously had done
  • The risk of concussion

After you’ve lost a tooth, it’s too late to think of preventative measures because that tooth will never grow back. We do have several different cosmetic dental treatments that will allow you to function normally and look great, but your first goal should always be to keep your natural teeth, and using a mouthguard while playing sports is a great way to do that.

Which Sports Typically Use Mouthguards?

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These days, you can see athletes from a range of different sports wearing mouthguards, when they would never have worn them before. Even sports that don’t usually have any body contact have gotten on board with the benefits of wearing a mouthguard. Traditionally, sports that commonly use mouthguards as part of their protective gear include:

  • Boxing
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial arts
  • Rugby
  • Basketball

Some other sports that have started using mouthguards that may not have in the past include squash, skiing, skateboarding, baseball, surfing, and gymnastics. If you play any sport and you feel that it’s worth making the effort to prevent oral injuries, then using mouthguards in sports is a great way to go.

Different Types Of Mouthguards

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While wearing mouthguards in sports is a sensible choice for oral protection, not all sports mouthguards are the same. There are three main types of mouthguards available, depending on your needs, your budget, and how much protection you want to have. Here is a quick breakdown:

Pre-made or ready-made – This type of mouthguard is also known as a stock mouthguard or over-the-counter mouthguard as they are pre-formed and ready to wear off the shelf. Typically they don’t cost very much, and they are a one-size-fits-all type of solution. They are also often uncomfortable and might fall out during use, but they do offer some surface protection for your teeth and gums.

Boil-and-bite – This type of mouthguard can also be purchased in many different stores, but it differs from pre-made in that you boil it in water to soften it and then form it around your teeth for a closer fit. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more comfortable than ready-made guards and they provide a much better fit, but it still isn’t perfect.

Custom-fitted – If you opt for a custom-fitted sports mouthguard, you’ll get one that fits your mouth perfectly. This type of mouthguard is usually more expensive than the others, but that’s because it is designed specifically for your features and offers the best protection and comfort. Not only will you get the best oral protection, but you’ll also be able to breathe better and focus on your sport without any issues.

Information About Oral Injuries In Sports

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Even though there aren’t a ton of dental injury statistics available, there are some interesting data that shine a light on the importance of using mouthguards when playing sports. The highest risk of oral injury comes from playing basketball, football, boxing, hockey, and martial arts. With some of these the risks are obvious, but with others such as basketball, it’s easy to miss the fact that there actually is a lot of contact, particularly elbows, that can lead to dental injuries.

Lacerations and soft tissue injuries are the most common oral injuries while playing sports, and up to 90% of all dental and oral facial trauma takes place on the upper lip, maxilla, and central maxillary incisors. Most of the dental trauma that occurs while playing sports consists of tooth avulsion, tooth fractures, and tooth subluxation. What all this means is, take the time to find a mouthguard that works best for you to protect your teeth while you play your sport of choice.

Mouthguard Maintenance Tips

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Caring for your mouthguard consistently will help you avoid nasty bacteria and help the mouthguard last as long as possible. Some important tips include rinsing it right after you use it, brushing it with a toothbrush, deep cleaning it each week, keeping it in its case when you’re not using it, and keeping the case clean all the time. If you follow these easy tips, you shouldn’t run into any trouble.

Is It Time To Replace Your Mouthguard ?

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The quality of your mouthguard helps determine the level of protection you’re going to get, so it’s important to replace it once it starts to wear down. If you notice it is getting thinner, then it is obviously not providing you with the same protection it used to. Regardless of the type of sport you play, simply wearing a mouthguard while exerting yourself will gradually break down the material, so eventually it no longer offers the same protection. If you manage to make it through an entire season with one mouthguard, do yourself a favour and replace it at the beginning of next season so you can start fresh.

Our team at Li Family Dental offers effective solutions when it comes to lost or damaged teeth, but we always want you to be able to keep your natural teeth first and foremost… and wearing a proper mouthguard while playing sports will help you accomplish that goal.

Give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.

Dr. Christopher Li, DDS

About the author

Dr. Christopher Li; Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years of experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.

Dr. Chris and his team have built an exceptional dental clinic serving The Queensway, Etobicoke, Toronto and surrounding areas.

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