April is National Facial Protection Month… as weather warms up and people get more active with sports, outdoor recreation, and other physical actives, it’s time to remind everyone how important a mouth guard is for protecting your smile! From baseball and soccer to rollerblading and mountain biking, all sorts of actives can pose a risk to your teeth and mouth, but wearing an athletic mouth guard can prevent or minimize tooth and mouth injuries should an accident occur.
Some research has even indicated a decreased risk of concussion for those wearing a custom-fitted dental mouth guard! The study found that only custom mouth guards professionally fit by a dental health care provider were associated with the reduced incidence of concussion. Custom-fitted mouth guards are made at the dentist’s office after taking impressions of the teeth. The dentist has the tools and equipment to fabricate a mouth guard that is smooth and sized with the most comfort and best protection in mind. They are more expensive than the other mouth guard options, but they offer superb fit and greater comfort and durability than options that cost less.
Other mouth guards are boil-and-bite and stock types. These types of mouth guards can be obtained at sporting goods stores and other retailers. The “boil-and-bite” kind are first softened by submerging them in very hot water, then bitten while still soft, which forms the plastic to the shape of the mouth and teeth. These offer a better fit and better protection than stock mouth guards Stock mouth guards are pre-formed and ready to wear, but they don’t fit very well, and a poorly fitted mouth guard is not as effective at protecting the teeth. They are also bulky, which, along with the poor fit, can drastically interfere with breathing and talking.
Although injury can still occur even with a mouth guard, the added layer of protection is capable of shielding the teeth and surrounding tissue from the force of many types of collisions, falls, or accidents. Any mouth guard that fits properly can help protect your mouth. The custom fitted kind are ideal and the most highly recommended, but the boil-and-bite may be a good option as well. While a stock mouth guard is preferable to no mouth guard at all, the other two are certainly better options.
Be sure to take proper care of your mouth guard. Clean it after each use by brushing it with a toothbrush and cool water (hot water can warp it, so use cool). When not in use, store it in a well-ventilated plastic storage case (many come with a case). Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or in a hot place such as a car, where heat might warp it.
If you have questions about mouth guards or want to know more about obtaining a custom-fitted athletic mouth guard, just call us at Mall of Georgia Dentistry!