You have just joined a sport that involves lots of violent contact, falling down or even flying equipment such as hockey pucks. Have you stopped to think how it could affect your teeth? You may have seen sportsmen who have cracked or chipped teeth or even missing ones; it usually isn’t because they practice poor oral hygiene; rather, they ignored the importance of a sports guard when playing sports. If you value your teeth you should strive to take care of them at all times and one way to do that is to have a sports guard on whenever you play.
What is a sports guard and how does it work?
A sports guard looks very much like a night guard only it is made of materials that can withstand high impact. A sports guard is usually worn over the top teeth but if you wear braces or if the dentist determines that you need a guard for your lower teeth as well he will have you fitted with one.
What are the benefits of sports guards?
The most important benefit of a sports guard is that it will protect your teeth when you play sports. If you have had a previous injury to your teeth or jaw a sports guard can be instrumental in making sure that it doesn’t recur. Some sports guards are also designed to protect the lips.
Are there disadvantages of sports guards?
There are no drawbacks to wearing a sports guard. However, there are drawbacks of certain kinds of sports guards. If you buy an over the counter one, for example, you can expect that it will get lost sooner or later – they tend to fall out because they aren’t fitted to hold onto the teeth. They can also be bulky and foamy and you may end up taking yours off in the heat of play. There are some that are called boil-and bite. These don’t come from the dentist, but rather from companies that get you to bite on a mold and create a guard for you. While these are only marginally better than the over-the-counter variety, they tend not to fit very well and they can come off during play. Custom fitted sports guards are the best – your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and then create a guard that fits perfectly. The only problem with these is that at around $200 or $300 a set most people would rather do without them. They can also take a long time to arrive, sometimes up to 2 weeks.
Can I buy a sports guard over the counter?
Indeed you can, but like most things that you buy over the counter don’t expect your sports guard to perform very well. For starters it may not fit perfectly, which means that on impact it can fly off and leave you exposed to injury. The best place to get as sports guard is at the dentist – they get a mold of your teeth and make sure that you have a sports guard that is apt for the kind of game you play.
My child plays a violent sport but he is still growing – should I get him fitted with a sports guard?
Yes, you should. Sports guards are created with growing children in mind. The best thing to do is have your child go in for a new sports guard at the beginning of every season. Not only are you able to accommodate their growing needs, you also get rid of the old sports guard which could be getting worn.
How should I take care of my sports guard?
Each time you wear your sports guard it comes in contact with bacteria and saliva in your mouth so you should clean it after every game. Rinse in soapy water and dry it with a soft towel and then keep safely until you need it for another game. Before you put it into your mouth you should give it a quick rinse with cold water.
Does it matter if I already have missing teeth?
As a matter of fact it doesn’t; if you have missing teeth you should make sure to wear a sports guard at all times during play to make sure that you don’t lose any more. See the dentist about replacing your missing teeth – the longer you stay without them, the likelier you are to develop further dental problems.
What if I forget my sports guard?
It is always advisable to have 2 sets – one that you keep with your kit at all times and another that you can leave at home. However, if you find that you don’t have a sports guard it is really up to you to decide whether you are willing to take the risk and play without it.
What should I do if I have a dental injury during play?
These are not uncommon when athletes aren’t wearing sports guards. If you chip, break or lose a tooth you should see your dentist immediately after the game. If you can find the tooth (or the piece that has broken off) you should take it with you to see whether the dentist can save it. If you are in pain you can use ice until you are able to get professional help. It is always a good idea to have a dentist who can see you when you have an emergency.