A high quality, well fitted mouthguard plays a crucial role in keeping your face, mouth, and teeth safe when playing sports.
Many people assume it’s the high-contact sports that produce the greatest number of injuries. In reality, it’s the ones you wouldn’t expect (like soccer, baseball and basketball) that can be the most hazardous. Players often assume that they won’t need a mouthguard, which leaves them vulnerable.
Studies of non-mouthguard mandated sports have found that orofacial and dental injuries account for anywhere from 3% to 38% of total injuries and those who choose not to wear a mouthguard are 1.6 to 1.9 times as likely to suffer some type of orofacial trauma.
How do mouthguards keep you safe?
Mouthguards work by slowing and distributing the force from direct impact, whether by a person, hard surface or an object like a ball, puck or stick. A hit like this will cause shock waves to reverberate through your mouth, face and skull. Mouthguards are engineered to capture the energy from the blow, disperse it as they contract, and spread it again as they expand back into shape.
To put it simply, a mouthguard acts as a shock absorber for your mouth and teeth.
What type of injuries does a mouthguard protect against?
There are two main types of injuries:
Dental injuries: The most frequent type is a chipped tooth, though more serious ones like dislodged or impacted teeth are not uncommon.
Orofacial injuries: These include soft tissue injuries like contusions (bruising), abrasions (grazed skin but not ruptured), and lacerations (skin is breached and often bleeds).
Mouthguards have not been proven to prevent concussions or traumatic brain injuries.
The right fit matters
How your mouthguard fits has an impact on how well it keeps you safe and how comfortable you are while wearing it.
Breathing and Speech: Your mouthguard shouldn’t hinder your ability to breath or speak in any way. If it does, it’s not the right fit.
Security: You shouldn’t have to clench your teeth to keep your mouthguard in place, nor should you be able to loosen it easily with your tongue
Comfort: If your mouthguard makes you gag, that’s a problem. Ideally, you want it to end somewhere between your first and second molars while avoiding too much of your soft palate.
Especially with mouth-adapted mouthguards, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you get a proper fit every time.