Protecting Your Mouth While Enjoying Sports
Spring is a time of year when people head outside after months of winter, diving into sports and exercise, hopping onto skateboards and buckling on their rollerblades. In light of this, April is National Facial Protection Month, focusing on preventing the injuries that come from sports and other activities.
Too often, in the midst of enjoying the outdoors, we forget to keep safety in mind during these activities. Head, mouth, and facial injuries aren’t uncommon; accidents can happen during any physical activity. Something as simple as using a helmet and mouth protector could help prevent many of these injuries.
Protecting The Teeth And Jaw
While obviously not intentional, accidents happen during athletic or outdoor activities. An elbow to the face in a basketball game or a fall from a skateboard can leave us with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.
Mouth protectors, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing potential damage. A mouth protector can help prevent those broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, cheek lining, face or jaw.
Finding The Right Mouth Protector
There are three kinds of mouth protectors: stock, boil-and-bite, and custom-made.
Stock mouth protectors are readily available, inexpensive, and come pre-formed. They are ready to wear right from the package. While this sounds convenient, stock mouth protectors are just that: stock. They usually don’t fit well and are often bulky. Both of these characteristics mean they can make breathing difficult and are sometimes uncomfortable in the mouth.
Boil-and-bite mouth protectors can be found at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are softened in warm water and then inserted into the mouth to allow the protector to form to the shape of the mouth. These are sometimes difficult to get a good fit, particularly if we don’t follow the instructions exactly.
Custom-fit mouth protectors are made by a dentist for our mouth specifically. They are more expensive than both the stock or the boil-and-bite mouth protectors, but because they are customized they can offer a better fit than anything we can buy off the shelf. A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while we are wearing it, making it easy to talk and breathe, and doing away with the level of discomfort found in the other versions.
Mouth Protectors For Braces and Bridges
Even those who have braces can use a mouth protector. In fact, they may be even more important for those with braces, bridges, or other dental work. A blow to the face can damage the wires and the braces themselves, and they could also cause the braces to cut or injure the inside of the mouth. A mouth protector, in this case, is doing double-duty: protecting the dental work and protecting the teeth and mouth. Though mouth protectors are usually for the upper teeth only, a dentist may recommend one for both the top and the bottom. If we wear a retainer or other removable appliance, it should not be worn during contact sports.