An athletic mouth guard (sports guard) is a resilient device or appliance placed inside the mouth to reduce injuries particularly to the teeth and surrounding structures.
Mouth guards, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, according to the ADA. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place and be easy for users to talk and breathe while wearing. Custom-fitted mouth guards are made by a dentist in a dental office or a dental laboratory based on a dentist’s instructions.
An impression is taken of the teeth and a mouth guard is created using the model.
The fitting of a mouth guard is best accomplished under the supervision or direction of a dentist, following properties and considerations:
1) It should be fabricated to adequately cover and protect both the teeth in the arch, and the surrounding tissues.
2) It should be fabricated on a stone model taken from an impression of the athlete/patient.
3) Adequate thickness in all areas to provide for the reduction of impact forces. In particular, a minimum of 3mm thickness in the occlusal/labial area.
4) It should have a seated equilibrated occlusion that is balanced for even occlusal contact. This helps to provide for the ideal absorption of impact energy.
5) A fit that is retentive and not dislodged on impact.
6) Speech considerations equal to the demands of the playing status of the athlete.
7) A material that meets FDA approval.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Policy on Prevention of Sports-related Orofacial Injuries, sports accidents reportedly account for 10 to 39% of all dental injuries in children and are most often caused by direct hits with a hard object, such as a puck or ball, and player-to-player contact.
The ADA offers the following five tips to help prevent facial injury:
1. Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports: Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists and dental specialists can make customized mouth guards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.
2. Wear a helmet: Helmets absorb the energy of an impact and help prevent damage to the head.
3. Wear protective eyewear: Eyes are extremely vulnerable to damage, especially when playing sports.
4. Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin: Hockey pucks, basketballs and racquetballs can cause severe facial damage at any age.
5. Make protective gear mandatory for all sports: Athletes who participate in football, hockey and boxing are required to wear mouth guards. If mouth guards have been proven to significantly decrease the risk of oral injuries, our office strongly suggest that athletes/patients/kids wear them, particularly when participating in: basketball, football, rugby, boxing, handball, skateboarding, weight lifting, cross fit, and etc.