Using Your Head: Mouthguards, Sports & You
Don’t be a hero. A little piece of plastic in your mouth provides big-time protection.
Ok, so mouthguards might not be the coolest things in the world. They look funny. They taste like plastic. They make your lips stick out.
But if you’re playing team sports or athletics, they can be the difference between busted teeth, a broken jaw or even a season-ending concussion.
A store-bought or custom-fitted mouthguard can help keep you safe on the field without ruining a good time.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a plastic (or silicone), U-shaped device that fits over your teeth and protects your mouth from injury during jarring, physical contact.
Typically, a mouthguard covers your upper teeth. But if you have orthodontics (braces) on your lower teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may ask you to wear one on your lower teeth too.
I don’t wear braces. Do I need to wear a mouthguard?
Sure do. Even if the sport has minor risk of mouth injury, you need to wear a mouthguard. Freak accidents can happen when you least expect it, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What can happen if I don’t wear a mouthguard?
Well, it’s not pretty:
- Broken teeth
- Cuts to the lip, tongue or face
- Nerve damage
- Facial fractures
- Damaged mouth tissue
How do mouthguards stop concussions?
When you take a big hit to the jaw, the impact can reverberate through your skull and into your brain. A mouthguard absorbs some of this impact and prevents it from spreading. So don’t forget to wear your mouthguard during practice as well as during games!
Should I keep my retainer in when wearing my mouthguard?
No, anything that can be removed from the mouth should be removed before wearing a mouthguard.
What types of mouthguards can I buy?
- Custom-fit: Made by your dentist or orthodontist. Offers maximum comfort and protection by fitting your teeth exactly.
- Boil and bite: Formed by placing mouthguard in hot water to soften, then biting into it to mold to your teeth.
- Ready-made: Bought “off of the shelf” and not fitted to your teeth specifically.