In my office, during each pre-participation examination, I always make a point to counsel my patient on prevention of sports injuries. By talking to young athlete’s patients I also realized that although many contact sports require them to wear protective gear, one gear that most of them are non-compliant with is a mouth guard.
In children between 7 to 11 years almost 50% of dental injuries are sports-related injuries.
The most common types of orofacial injuries sustained are avulsions of the teeth, luxation injuries and fractures of the facial bonds. One of the most important preventive measures for dental injuries is the use of mouth guards and facial masks.
Currently, mouth guards are mandated for student athletes who participate in field hockey, lacrosse, ice hockey, and football. It has been also suggested that mouth guards protect athletes from concussion.
There are 3 types of mouth guards commercially available.
- The one that can be purchased over the counter is a stock mouth guard. It is inexpensive, but bulky and must be held in place by clenching the teeth, which may interfere with breathing and speech.
- Mouth-formed guard, on the other hand, are reasonably priced. These guards need to be placed in boiled water to soften material, placed over the maxillary arch.
- Custom-formed mouth guards are the most comfortable and interfere least with breathing and speech, but are the most expensive since it requires couple of visits to the dentist.
Compliance is a key point in maxillofacial injury prevention. If you want to read more on a subject, here are some references.