More than 5 million teeth are avulsed each year due to sports injury and trauma (Dentistry Today 12/05), pharmacy and in certain cases this can be attributed to lack of suitable mouthguard. Not only do Mouthguards protect the teeth, but they also protect the head against a blow to the jaw that can cause a concussion or loss of consciousness.
Sources of injury:
Different sports produce risk for different types of injury. Basketball injuries are commonly caused by an elbow-to-jaw or head-to-jaw collision and the resulting loosening or avulsion of one or more teeth. A ball striking a tooth and chipping/breaking/avulsing it is more common in Baseball. Football has a greater chance of jaw trauma and teeth being intruded into the jawbone. All contact sports carry the risk of concussion that may result from jaw trauma from contact or a fall.
Functions of a Mouthguard:
- Prevention of laceration and bruising during impact by acting as a cushion between cheeks/lips and teeth
- Prevention of tooth fracture/dislocation/avulsion by cushioning the teeth from direct blows and redistributing the forces of impact
- Opposing teeth are protected from impact with each other
- Mandible is supported by redistribution of forces
- Increased protection from concussion by acting as a shock absorber between jaws reducing the transfer of energy from the condyles to the base of the skull
- Psychological benefit from confidence in protection
Types of Athletic Mouthguards:
Stock Mouthguard: Available in a sporting goods store, this is the least desirable and offers the least protection. It has the poorest fit and may even become dislodged and obstruct an airway in the event of injury.
Boil-&-Bite Mouthguard: Also available in a sporting goods store, this is the most common but has considerable downfalls as well. The boil-and-bite does not have the proper thickness, comfort, or critical protection of posterior teeth. After heating and biting, the thickness is reduced to an ineffective level. The fit is generally not retentive enough to be worn outside of football when it is tied to the facemask.
Custom Mouthguard: Only available through custom fabrication by a dentist, this is the most desirable and offers the best protection. It offers the best fit and protection from injury of anything available on the market. They are the most comfortable and retentive while offering ideal thickness and support. They can also be customized by sport with some requiring more protection than others. They also offer the option of customization of colors, names, and words.