Five Benefits of Wearing Mouthguards for Contact Sports
Contact sports are a wonderful way to engage in physical exercise and teamwork. Unfortunately, contact sports always carry the risk for injury, and as dentists, we concern ourselves with trauma that affects the mouth, teeth, and jaws. The great news is that we have a simple preventive solution for those participating in contact sports: athletic mouthguards!
In this week’s blog, we will highlight several important advantages of wearing an athletic mouthguard during any contact sports.
Protection against Broken Teeth
One of the most common injuries we, in dentistry, see from contact sports is broken teeth. A blow to the face by a ball or puck or elbow can chip or break enamel and underlying tooth structure.
A chipped tooth can require a variety of treatments depending on its severity. Some chipped teeth need only a little enamel smoothing to remove a sharp edge. Others are big enough and visible enough that your dentist must rebuild the missing tooth structure with a bonded tooth-colored filling. Severe injuries may cause a tooth to break into its nerve chamber, necessitating a root canal treatment and crown for repair. We have even seen teeth that break underneath the gums, making them irreparable!
Wearing a protective mouthguard will prevent this type of damage from a sports injury to the face. A mouthguard covers the teeth and provides a cushion to absorb any force applied to the teeth.
Protection against Cuts on the Lips and Cheeks
Another common injury from contact sports is laceration of the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks. These cuts result from the sharp edges of teeth being forcefully pushed into the surrounding soft tissues. Sometimes the extent of the cut is minor and easy to stop any bleeding. In more severe cases, the cuts require stitches to close the wound and stop the bleeding.
These lacerations may extend onto the exterior of the mouth, creating a cosmetic problem if scarring develops in the future.
You can protect yourself or your loved one against these lacerations by wearing an athletic mouthguard. A mouthguard provides a barrier between the teeth and the soft tissues of the lips, cheeks and tongue. When there is a blow to the face, instead of pressing the soft tissues into the teeth, the force pushes them into the rubbery cushion of the mouthguard.
Protection against Jaw Fractures
That rubbery cushion also separates the teeth, giving a sort of “shock-absorber” effect to the bite. During contact sports, it is possible to suffer a fracture of the jaw from a blunt force to the chin. These injuries can forcefully slam the lower jaw into its socket in the skull and break it at the joint.
When you wear an athletic mouthguard, the teeth remain slightly separated by the thick, rubbery material. This separation prevents the jaw from compressing up into its socket and protects the bones against fracture.
Protection against Teeth Clenching during Concentration or Physical Strain
Many people clench or grind their teeth during physical exercise, especially weight-lifting. Over time, the forces of clenching and grinding (termed microtrauma) damage the teeth in a variety of ways. Some people experienced cracked teeth, others have shortening or flattening of the teeth, and some suffer from severe gum recession.
We should always protect our teeth from clenching or grinding habits, whether they occur during sleep or during physical activity. An athletic mouthguard will do just that by separating the teeth so that there is no friction of one tooth against another.
Potentially Saves Thousands of Dollars in Dental Treatments
The risk of all of these injuries and their potential for pain and suffering is reason enough to wear a mouthguard for contact sports. But if you still need a little convincing, consider this. The cost to repair even a single one of these injuries is a minimum of several hundred dollars. Some of the severe injuries could put you (or your loved on) in need of surgery costing tens of thousands of dollars!
Prevent these expensive dental needs by protecting your teeth, soft tissues, and jaws by wearing a mouthguard any time you’re at risk for a physical injury to the face!
More Questions about Mouthguards for Contact Sports?
Call Timberlake Dental today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning. He can answer any question you have about mouthguards and how they can protect you or a loved one against traumatic injuries during sports.
Tags: athletic mouthguard, athletic mouthpiece, avulsion, broken teeth, bruxism, chipped teeth, clenching, cracked tooth, grinding, sports, sports injuries, sports mouthguard, sports trauma, TMJ fracture
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