|Mouthguards: An Asset to Your Family's Health|
|Wednesday, 03 February 2010 06:16|
By David P. Forester, D.D.S., & T. Gary Forester, D.D.S.
Sports and athletic competition is at the core of American culture. Young boys grow up dreaming of making the big leagues, and men reminisce about that incredible play in the big game. Girls grow up playing softball, and look up to their home-town heroes, who played in the College World Series. Kids play sports at the playground and on organized teams. Adults compete in community leagues, and play with friends on the weekends.
Because so much of our lives revolve around playing sports, the likelihood of adults and children suffering some kind of sports-related injury is high. However, when it comes to protecting your mouth or your child's, the preventative measures available are easy and effective.
THE FACTS ABOUT SPORTS INJURIES
There are 15 million dental injuries in the United States per year, and five million with trauma related tooth loss. Research shows that sports injuries may account for anywhere between13-39% of those dental injuries.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
THE NATURE OF OROFACIAL INJURIES
These injuries are caused by serious impacts or blows that are most likely to occur with high contact and collision sports.
MOUTHGUARDS, SPORTS AND TRAUMA
Currently, only five amateur sports (football, ice hockey, boxing, men's lacrosse and women's field hockey) and one professional sport (boxing) have mandated mouthguard use. This has shown to be effective in reducing facial and dental trauma in each sport.
What about other contact sports and recreational activities that do not require mouthguards? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is concerned that baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics all have significant histories of orofacial injuries. This indicates that mouthguard mandates should be put into effect. Skateboarding, rollerblading and bicycling are high risk sports, however, they are not as easily mandated as organized sports teams. The American Dental Association and the Academy for Sports Dentistry have a new, more comprehensive list, including raquetball, handball, squash, tennis, skiing, and waterpolo.
In several studies, soccer is shown to have a higher incidence of orofacial injury than football. The AAPD reports that nearly half of sports related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball. In basketball, 32% of all injuries were orofacial, which was reduced to only 4.7% when a mouthguard was worn. In a study of 50 Division I basketball teams, in the 1999-2000 season, there were four times as many dental injuries and twice as many fractured teeth without mouthguard protection.
Characteristics of a well-fitted mouthguard
The use of a mouthguard can be compared to the shocks of a car. When a mouthguard of sufficient thickness is in place during a blow to the chin, it acts as a shock absorber. Just as the shocks on a car provide for a smoother ride, the mouthguard absorbs the shock that would normally be transferred from the lower jaw to the base of the skull. Thus, it decreases the potential for concussion or other serious brain injury.
TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS
Type I is the prefabricated stock mouthguard, sold at sporting good stores (<$10). It is not formed to the teeth, but rather relies upon a clinched jaw to keep it in place. This is by far the bulkiest and least protective mouthguard. It impedes upon the athlete's ability to speak and breath, and increases the likelihood of gagging.
Type II is the boil and bake type of mouthguard also available over the counter ($5-30). Unlike the stock type, an attempt is made to fit the teeth, with fair success. There is instability and uneven distribution of the material after the mouth has formed the guard. This leads to improper fit and poor shock absorbing potential between back teeth due to thinness. When compared to Type I stock mouthguards, its increased comfort, fair
The Type III mouthguard is a custom appliance made by a dentist using a
The custom made mouthguard has the least interference with speaking and breathing, and is the most comfortable when compared with the other types. When athletes were surveyed, the custom fitted mouthguard was the preferred type, hands down. Research shows that Type I and Type II mouthguards do not have significant protective effects, when compared to wearing no mouthguard at all. Therefore, the Type III mouthguard is superior in overall quality and function. It is true that any mouthguard is better that no mouthguard at all. However, compared with the cost and time spent repairing an injury as well as the increased potential for user compliance, a custom fitted mouthguard is worth the investment.
Although the type of mouthguard is significant, compliance with wearing it is by far the most important factor in protecting orofacial health. The mouthguard cannot protect when it is not inside the mouth. Therefore, a mouthguard that the athlete is comfortable wearing must be considered, so they will actually wear it. It is important to talk with your dentist about your growing child. Mouthguards are appropriate with deciduous (baby) teeth, assuming that growth, development, and the fit of the appliance are evaluated on a yearly basis. Consult your dentist with any questions and for more information on mouthguard specifics.
BRINGING IT HOME
The facts are overwhelming: our families are at risk for orofacial injury with participation in sports and recreational activities. We all need to work together: parents, coaches, and dental professionals. This should be included in the pursuit of comprehensive dentistry. Just as dental professionals work to prevent tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorders, we need to come together as a community to prevent orofacial injuries with the simple use of a mouthguard.
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