Sports mouthguard is an absolute necessity

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , , ,

I can't stress enough the importance of wearing a properly fitting mouthguard because I have seen the damage that can be done to a person's mouth during a sporting event.

Not too long ago I had to treat a young man who was on his high school lacrosse team. Due to the nature of the game, the players wear helmets to protect themselves from getting hit by the ball and the sticks. My patient was hit in the front of his mouth with a lacrosse stick while he was on the sideline, not actually in the game at that moment. It was an accident and the friend who hit him unintentionally had no idea how this small mistake would change this young man's life.

My patient came to the office with a severely fractured front tooth. It was an upper central incisor, the first one you look at when a person smiles. Its prognosis was hopeless. There are lots of things dentists can do to restore mutilated teeth, but sometimes things are not possible. This was one of those times. The tooth was absolutely beyond hope.

The young man was sent to see a local periodontist who placed an implant in the area where the fractured tooth used to be. For six months my patient had to wear a "flipper" which is a one tooth partial denture used to temporarily fill in the space left when the broken tooth was removed. For a front tooth, which is missing, six months can seem like a long time. After the required waiting time had passed and the implant had healed in the bone, I made a porcelain crown to fit the implant and make the patient's smile look normal again.

The simplest way to protect your teeth, jaws and TM joint is to wear a properly constructed mouthguard appropriately made for the type of sport you play.
The young man who lost his front tooth showed me his "guard," and I use that term loosely. It was not form fitted to his teeth. Actually it was just a thin piece of plastic he was supposed to bite on that wasn't fitted to anything.

When I recently went to a local sporting goods store to see what is available, I was appalled. Most of the ones being sold are either thin pieces of plastic that are absolutely worthless and can't protect teeth, or they are the so called "boil and bite" type, where you heat the plastic up with hot water and bite into it to make a lasting imprint of your teeth. The problem with these types of guards is that it is difficult to determine if the person had bit down hard enough to get a nice even mold of the teeth. Also, even if the teeth are securely covered by the plastic, the person might have bit down a little crooked in the soft plastic so now the bite is off and this can actually decrease playing ability.

The type of plastic used is critical. A properly made sportsguard fabricated from dental impressions should be made from laminated, very tough material.
The saying "you get what you pay for" is absolutely true when it comes to proper protection for your mouth.

Anyone who plays a sport that has the slightest possibility of causing damage to his or her mouth should have a dentist fabricate a well-fitting guard.