If you play hockey, lacrosse, football, wrestling, boxing or any other contact sport, your head, face, and mouth are subject to injury at every level of play. With prevention being the best policy, oral and maxillofacial surgeons advocate the use of protective mouth guards as part of your standard athletic equipment (among other safety gear, such as helmets and masks).
Advantages of Wearing a Mouth Guard:
Mouth guards protect your teeth, jaw, cheek, and tongue from injury. Mouth guards are estimated to prevent about two-hundred thousand injuries every year.
But how do you choose your mouth guard? Let’s break it down by type first.
Types of Mouth Guards:
- Stock Mouth Guards: Found in most sporting goods stores, stock mouth guards are bulky, pre-formed, and ready-to-wear. Stock mouth guards do not give the best fit and always need to be clenched when wearing them.
- Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards: Found in most sporting goods stores, boil and bite mouth guards offer a better fit. The name comes from how the mouth guard shapes to your teeth: you put your mouth guard in boiling water for an amount of time, let it cool, and then bite so it can form to your teeth shape.
- Custom-Made Mouth Guards: Usually made and fitted by a dentist, best fit, pricey, insurance may not cover the cost.
A mouth guard should be assessed based on retention, comfort, the ability to speak and breathe, durability against wear and tear, and the level of protection provided to the teeth, gums, and lips. When being fitted for a mouth guard, first keep in mind the overall fit as it’s important the guard does not misalign the jaw. It’s also impor make sure the mouth guard is durable, lightweight, and easy to clean. It’s also important that it covers the upper and/or lower teeth and gums.
In the unfortunate event of a facial or mouth injury that calls for a trip to the emergency room, oral and maxillofacial surgeons have extensive training in assessing and caring for these types of injuries. If you have any questions, contact us at Austin Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, we’d love to help.