When Should I Use A Mouthguard?

Preventing injuries while playing sports is an important element in the care and maintenance of your overall oral health.  One of the main ways in which adults, teenagers, and young children alike can prevent injuries to their mouth, teeth, face, lips and jaw is by consistently wearing a mouthguard while participating in any sporting activities where there is any risk of injury to the face.  Geneally, your Calgary dentist can fabricate a mouthguard for you or your child in one short visit.


Why Should I or My Child Wear A Mouthguard?

According to the American Dental Association, studies have shown that an athlete is a whopping 60 times more likely to suffer from a dental injury if they are not wearing a mouthguard.  In an article from the Journal of the American Dental Association, it was reported that 13 to 39% of all dental injuries are related to playing sports.  Considering the variety of mouthguards available, including a custom-fitted mouthguard from our Calgary dentist, this is simply a risk that you should not be taking with your or your child’s oral health. 


What Type of Mouthguard Should I Be Wearing?

There are several types of mouthguards available, including generic (stock) mouthguards that can be purchased at a sporting goods store or drugstore, boil and bite type of mouthguards which are also available at most drugstores, as well as custom-fitted mouthguards.

Custom-fitted mouthguards that are fabricated by our Calgary dental office or sent by our Calgary dental office to a dental laboratory is the type of mouthguard that is recommended by our Calgary dentist.  This type of mouthguard is custom-fitted for you by making a mold of your teeth.  At our dental office, this type of mouthguard is available in several different colours (even your team colours!) and affords you the best protection against a dental injury.

Also available are boil and bite mouthguards as well as stock mouthguards which can be purchased at most drugstores or sporting goods stores.  Although the boil and bite type of mouthguard is somewhat more fitted than a stock type of mouthguard because they adapt to the shape of your mouth and teeth after being boiled, both of these types of mouthguards generally do not perform as well as a custom-fitted mouthguard.  Because they are not custom-fitted, these types of mouthguards tend to be bulky, ill-fitting and may even make breathing and speaking more difficult and uncomfortable.  Particularly for children, if the mouthguard is uncomfortable to wear, there is less likelihood that your child will be willing to wear it.  This should therefore be a consideration when choosing a mouthguard for your child and yourself.  If you are unable to obtain a custom-fitted mouthguard, however, it is better to use either a stock or boil and bite mouthguard rather than wear no mouthguard at all.


Are Mouthguards Only for Contact Sports?

Absolutely not!  Although the benefits of a mouthguard are more obvious for high contact sports such as hockey, boxing, wrestling, martial arts and football, optimally you and your child should wear a mouthguard when participating in any type of sporting activity where there is any risk at all of any type of facial injury.  In fact, the best rule of thumb is to get your child used to wearing a mouthguard for any type of sporting activity at an early age, including skating, skateboarding, soccer and gymnastics, so they become used to wearing the sportsguard and it becomes a part of their overall athletic gear.


What If I Wear Braces?  Should I Wear a Mouthguard?

If you wear braces, it is particularly important that you wear a mouthguard to protect the damage that an injury to your face could cause to your brackets. Wearing a mouthguard also acts as a physical barrier between your braces and your face, protecting your gums, lips and cheeks from potential injury from a blow to the face.


How Long Will My Mouthguard Last?

Mouthguards will have to be replaced periodically.  You should speak with your dentist regarding how often your mouthguard should be replaced, as this will vary depending upon the type of mouthguard, how often it is used, and how well it is taken care of. Children and teenagers may need to replace their mouthguards more frequently than adults simply because their jaw and mouths are growing and changing.  Also keep in mind that the better you take care of your mouthguard, the longer it should last.  Here are some tips for taking care of and hopefully extending the longevity of your mouthguard:

  • Keep your mouthguard clean and dry between use.  Mouthguards should be cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste immediately after worn.  Your mouthguard will also benefit from regular cleanings with soap and cool water.  Make sure you rinse your mouthguard thoroughly after cleaning!

  • Store your mouthguard in the container provided by your dentist, and make sure that it is dried completely before putting it away to avoid the growth of bacteria.

  • Avoid leaving your mouthguard in the sun or putting it in hot water as this could warp your mouthguard or cause it to deteriorate.

  • Bring your mouthguard to your regular dentist appointment so our Calgary dentist can inspect and make recommendations for a replacement guard, if necessary.  Your dentist can also give the mouthguard a thorough cleaning for you.

At the end of the day, every step you take to protect your pearly whites is a step towards a happier, healthier smile.  Talk to our Calgary dentist about our custom-fitted mouthguards and how they can protect your and your children’s smile while staying active and fit.  Call our Calgary dentist today for more information on sportsguards or any other aspect of your oral health.   We're here for you as an important element in maintaining your overall health and well-being.


Please be advised that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more informtion about your specific dental health requirements.


Copyright: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


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