April is National Facial Protection Month. Every year at Leesburg Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we see both adults and children who are active in sports such as hockey, football, rugby, boxing, soccer, baseball, and more.
These high-contact sports often lead to major oral injuries. In fact, one recent study determined that the prevalence of dentofacial injuries in collision sports participants was about 28%.
We always recommend custom-fit sports mouthguards if you participate in any sort of heavy contact recreational activity in order to protect your teeth. A properly fitted mouthguard protects the jaws from fracture, the temporomandibular joints (which connect your jaw to your skull) from dislocation, and the gums and soft tissues of the cheeks and lips from cuts.
Sports mouthguards also act as a protective cushion for direct or indirect impacts to the teeth that can result in fractures, nerve damage, and knocked-out or loose teeth.
Patient’s horizontal root fracture, resulting in tooth extraction
Broken Teeth Can Be Prevented With Mouthguards
Last fall, Dr. Whitman treated a patient who did not wear a sports mouthguard. He competed in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament and suffered a direct hit to his front teeth.
One front tooth was chipped but still restorable. Unfortunately, the other front tooth was fractured horizontally across the entire root and could not be restored. The tooth had to be extracted.
A bone graft and collagen membrane were placed to preserve the tooth socket for future restoration. The patient is now waiting for a dental implant, which most dental insurance plans do not cover.
The patient had no discomfort from the procedure, but this costly injury could have been prevented with a custom-fit sports mouthguard.
Avoid Loose and Knocked-Out Teeth With Custom Protection
Last month, Dr. Whitman treated a different patient who wore an over-the-counter sports mouthguard when playing baseball. Over-the-counter, also known as boil-and-bite, sports mouthguards are available at sporting goods stores, pharmacies, and online.
Custom fit sports guard for a patient
Though inexpensive, these mouthguards are:
- Made of weaker materials
- Not as thick to properly absorb the shock of an impact
- Have minimal retention
- Require little fitting other than trimming with scissors
In other words, these store-bought mouthguards are not made to protect your particular smile.
The teenager suffered a hit to the face with a baseball. Due to the loose-fitting nature of the over-the-counter sports mouthguard, the mouthguard and one of his front teeth immediately fell out in its entirety. The three surrounding front teeth also became loose and out of place from the impact.
His upper lip and gums were extremely swollen and he needed several stitches. It took weeks for the swelling to subside and the patient was in great discomfort for about two months.
Dr. Whitman was able to reimplant the natural tooth and place a stint to stabilize and reposition the surrounding teeth. This was another traumatic injury that could have been avoided with a custom-fit mouthguard.
Protect Your Smile With a Mouthguard Made Just for You
Both of these patients are now wearing custom-fit sports mouthguards. Nearly all over-the-counter mouthguards do not have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, meaning they either have not been reviewed by the ADA or even more have been deemed insufficient for adequate protection.
Sports mouthguards made by dental professionals can be customized to each patient’s comfort level with thickness, type of material, and ensured durability based on how heavy contact sport and if the patient clenches or grinds during physical activity. They even come in a wide assortment of colors and can have your name put into it.
If you play a contact sport or participate in a leisurely activity, such as hockey or skating, where you think you would need a custom mouthguard, ask Leesburg Family & Cosmetic Dentistry during your next visit. Prevention is always better—and more affordable—than damage control.