Sports and athletic activities are an essential part of staying healthy in every stage of life. However, contact sports come with a high risk of dental injuries that is cause for concern. Even non-contact sports can cause tooth loss or damage, having a permanent effect on your ability to eat and talk.
It’s normal to wonder, “Do mouthguards protect teeth?” and fortunately, the answer is yes. Although mouthguards cannot prevent every injury, they can reduce the impact of collisions in contact sports. They are also helpful for reducing the effects of tooth-grinding in patients with bruxism.
Common Sports Injuries
When asking, “Do mouthguards protect teeth?” it’s important to understand that teeth are more fragile than they seem. Teeth can become chipped, broken, or knocked out of their socket with enough force. Baby teeth are more vulnerable, but adult teeth are not always strong enough to resist damage from sports injuries.
Team contact sports increase your chances of sustaining a dental injury because of the probability of bodily collisions. A brutal hit from a team member’s elbow, knee, or head can easily knock out your front teeth. Even colliding with equipment on or off the field can cause severe dental injuries.
Non-contact sports like singles tennis have fewer moving objects to worry about. However, taking a ball to the face or falling during a game can cause damage to your jaw and teeth, too. Because of this, it’s essential to consider a mouthguard for any athletic activity that involves fast-moving balls or the risk of falling.
Do Mouthguards Protect Teeth?
Mouthguards can protect your smile by placing an additional barrier layer around your teeth. Since the skin and muscle that stretches over your jaw is thin, it provides little protection in the event of a collision.
Mouthguards can be made of either soft or hard materials. Soft rubber-like materials such as ethylene-vinyl acetate are flexible and comfortable but do not provide as much protection. More rigid materials help spread out the force of an impact over a wider area and provide better shock absorption, reducing the risk of dental injuries.
The ideal mouthguards for your teeth are custom-fitted to your mouth. Not only do these mouthguards provide better protection, but they’re also easier to talk and breathe with. Mouthguards fitted with the assistance of a dentist are the best option because they are customised to your unique smile.
Keep in mind that braces and retainers do not protect your teeth the same way mouthguards do. Unless specifically told otherwise by your dentist, remove your retainer before using a mouthguard for either sports.
Other Uses for Mouthguards
Sleep-related disorders sometimes require the implementation of a mouthguard. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is an unconscious grinding of the teeth that can wear down tooth enamel over time. This grinding increases tooth sensitivity and vulnerability to cavities.
A mouthguard custom-fitted to your teeth can help protect them from grinding. The mouthguard takes a few days to get used to wearing, but it has serious long-term benefits. A properly fitted mouthguard does not interfere with your breathing.
Sleep apnoea patients may also benefit from a specialised mouthguard. However, this mouthpiece is less about protecting individual teeth and more about keeping your jaw in place while you sleep to prevent snoring and frequent reawakening. This mouthpiece may do double duty to prevent bruxism if chosen and moulded with a dentist’s help.
Sports mouthguards and bruxism mouthguards have slightly different designs because of how they are used. Because of this, it’s crucial to have separate mouthguards for each purpose, even if they look and feel the same. Talk to your dentist about which type of mouthguard best suits your lifestyle so you can ensure your teeth are properly protected.
Cleaning your Mouthguard
One of the best ways to increase the longevity of your mouthguard is to clean it properly. Since food particles stuck to your teeth can easily transfer to your mouthguard, it’s important to clean it after every use. If immediate cleaning isn’t possible due to your location, clean it as soon as you get home and wash the carrying case with water and dish soap as well.
Some types of mouthguard require you to avoid hot water for cleaning, as it can loosen or warp the plastic. Distorting the shape of your mouthguard compromises its effectiveness, so if this occurs, you’ll need to visit the dentist for a replacement.
Your dentist can advise you on the exact cleaning needs for your specific mouthguard.
Preventing Dental Injuries and More
Even if you only participate in sports occasionally, you need to protect your teeth. Since the answer to “Do mouthguards protect teeth?” is an overwhelming yes, talk to your dentist about getting a custom mouthguard made. You need to protect your smile whether you’re playing contact sports or dealing with intense tooth-grinding habits that cause wear and tear.
Dentistry on Solent is proud to provide a wide range of dentistry services, including mouthguards and bi-maxillary splints. To talk to our dental team about a mouthguard and have your impressions taken, contact us today on (02) 9158 6137 or fill out our online form. We’re open 7 days a week in Baulkham Hills, just 30 minutes from Sydney, NSW.