It’s that time of year again! Youth sports are in full swing, and while this time is full of fun, sportsmanship, and team bonding, it can also mean unexpected time in the dentist’s chair. Approximately 36% of all unintentional injuries to children and adolescents are a result of a sports-related injury. According to the American Dental Association, of those injuries, 10-20% of all sports related injuries are maxillofacial injuries, or injuries relating to the jaw/face.
The The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports that an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard during athletic activity. Often times these injuries result in long lasting, and even permanent damage to oral structures which can require time consuming and costly medical intervention. Some of the most common dental injuries include:
Fracture – This is also known as a root fracture, broken tooth or chipped tooth.
Avulsion – This is when the entire tooth, including root, get knocked out of the athlete’s mouth.
Luxation – This defines when the tooth is still in socket, but in the wrong position.
Each of these injuries requires immediate, emergency, medical attention; and in many cases, this signals the blow of unexpected and very costly medical bills. The answer to avoiding this kind of situation is simple. Get a mouthguard. There are three general types of mouthguards that fit the requirements and budget of any aspiring professional athlete (or their parents):
Ready-made or stock mouthguard – While being the cheapest of the bunch and available in most sports outfitters, ready-made mouthguards offer the least amount of comfort and a more variable level of protection. Because it doesn’t form fit to the mouth of the athlete, this lends more opportunity for it to be knocked loose which can result in dental injury.
Mouth-formed “boil and bite” mouthguard – These mouthguards are slightly more expensive, but offer a higher level of comfort and protection. With a “boil and bite” mouthguard, your athlete will have something that fits more readily to their individual dental structure. This improves their chances of keeping it in place during particularly rough play.
Custom-made mouthguard made by a dentist – This kind of mouthguard is easily the most expensive and can only be obtained after a dental appointment to create and fit the mold. However, these mouthguards offer the highest level of protection. They are the most useful in warding off the more costly emergency dental procedures.
While they offer differing levels of comfort and effectiveness, each of the above mouthguards decrease the chances of your athlete sustaining a potentially permanent and costly dental injury. Save your time and money; if you have an aspiring pro-athlete, take the simple measure of getting a mouthguard the works for you.