During a single athletic season, you have a one in 10 chance of suffering a facial or dental injury. In fact, 15 million Americans suffer dental injuries, and 5 million teeth are lost annually in sports-related injuries, according to the American Dental Assistants Association.
So how can you protect your smile? Gear up with a mouthguard before you hit the field or court.
A mouthguard is a flexible plastic appliance that’s worn during athletic and recreational activities to protect your mouth from injuries. The American Dental Association recommends that people of all ages use a properly fitted mouthguard in any sport that may pose a risk of injury.
Mouthguards can help prevent serious injuries such as brain hemorrhages, unconscious incidents, jaw fractures and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. The appliances move soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, helping to prevent cutting and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear braces.
Any time there’s a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. If you play baseball, basketball, softball, football, soccer, lacrosse or rugby, or if you participate in wrestling, martial arts or recreational sports like skateboarding, bicycling or in-line skating, you should wear a mouthguard.
Players and parents are sometimes uninformed about the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved with sports. Some, though not all schools or organizations, reinforce the health advantage of mouthguards for contact sports. Cost may be another consideration, although mouthguards come in a variety of price ranges.
Last updated January 14, 2022
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.