5 reasons to wear a mouthguard for sports

If you or your family members are among the millions of Americans who play sports, there’s one piece of equipment that’s even more important than a ball, bat or glove: a dental mouthguard. Here’s why you should invest in a quality mouthguard as part of your pre-game preparation. 

1. It’s easy to crack a tooth (or worse).

Athletic-related dental injuries aren’t rare. Sports cause up to a third of all injuries to the face and mouth, according to a 2019 study in Sports Medicine. That statistic includes: 

• Cracked teeth and crowns 

• Root damage 

• Teeth knocked out of the socket 

• Fractured cheekbones and jawbones

• Injuries to blood vessels and soft tissues (tongue, cheeks, gums and lips)

About 5 million Americans lose teeth to sports-related injuries every year, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The good news is this: With a mouthguard, that staggering number of lost teeth decreases dramatically.

2. Most sports require a mouthguard.

Mouthguards aren’t just for football. The ADA recommends wearing a properly fitted mouthguard for nearly 30 sports and activities. Which sports need a mouthguard?

• High-contact sports, such as basketball, football, handball, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer and boxing

• High-injury sports with limited contact, such as baseball, bicycling, gymnastics, horseback riding, skateboarding, skating, skiing, softball, surfing and volleyball

If you play a sport that risks serious falls, collision with other players or flying objects, you should consider wearing a mouthguard.

3. Prevention is the best medicine.

Repairing or replacing a lost tooth can be pricey, and damaged teeth are more likely to need further treatment down the road. Save your time, money and energy — keep your teeth protected to begin with.

4. Your teeth won’t grow back.

Once your permanent teeth are gone, it’s game over. Teens and adults only have 28 teeth — or 32 with wisdom teeth — and they’re meant to last a lifetime. A mouthguard can help ensure your smile’s longevity.

5. Mouthguards work.

Mouthguards are one of the most effective ways to prevent dental injuries in sports. According to a 2017 study in Clinics in Sports Medicine, the incidence of players’ dental injuries significantly drops when sports teams adopt the requirement that players wear a mouthguard. 

According to the ADA, not wearing a mouthguard during sports means you’re 60 times more likely to damage your teeth.

How to pick a mouthguard

A mouthguard should fit properly, stay securely and comfortably in place and be easy to clean. Most importantly, it should reduce the force of impact and not restrict your ability to speak or breathe.

There are three types of mouthguards:

Stock, or ready-made, mouthguards are available at many department and sporting goods stores. The cheapest option, but they’re also the least effective type of mouthguard because their generic design isn’t customized for your mouth.

Boil-and-bite mouthguards are off-the-shelf products that can be molded to your mouth at home. Just heat up the material in water and bite into it to create a custom fit. These products can be found at drugstores and sporting goods retailers and are usually a better option than stock mouthguards.

Custom-made mouthguards are the most effective type of mouthguard. Made specifically to fit your mouth, these mouthguards use impressions taken by your dentist before being created in a dental laboratory. Although they are the most expensive option and are not generally covered by dental plans, they provide the best fit to protect your mouth. Your pearly whites are worth it!