Have you or your child recently started playing a contact sport? If so, you may be wondering if you should invest in a sports guard or mouth protector. Sports guards fit over your teeth and are made of flexible plastic to help provide cushion and shock absorption. Wearing a sports guard is recommended to protect your teeth and jaw from injury during activities when impact to the jaw or head is possible.

Here are 3 benefits of a sports guard to help you decide when wearing one may be helpful:

1. A Sports Guard Can Help Protect Your Teeth

Dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury. The National Youth Sports Foundation estimates that dental damage is 60 times more likely for athletes who don’t wear a sports guard. The American Dental Association also estimates that over 200,000 oral and dental injuries are avoided each year with the use of sports guards.

During contact sports, teeth might be chipped, broken, jarred out of alignment or even knocked out and lost, leading to the need for expensive and uncomfortable dental procedures. A sports guard can be a simple and cost effective way to help minimize the risk of injury and the need for treatment.

2. A Sports Guard Can Help Protect Your Brain

Not only can a sports guard protect your teeth, but another of the benefits of a sports guard is that it has been shown to help protect athletes from concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries by helping to absorb the shock of a blow to the head or jaw. With increasing research and awareness in recent years of the short and long term impact of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, sports guards along with other protective gear like helmets and face guards are being required more and more for contact sports.

Even when it is not required, though, as it still isn’t for some contact sports with high risk of impact, it is always a good idea to go with your dentist or doctor’s recommendation to wear a sports guard during activities that put you at risk of trauma or injury to your head, jaw or mouth.

3. A Sports Guard Can Help Protect Dental Appliances

You might think that if you have braces or other dental implants that it’s not as important to wear a sports guard because a tooth may be less likely to be knocked out, but this is a common misconception. Your teeth and jaw can still be injured and it is also important to protect your dental appliances from damage that can happen during contact sports and may require expensive repair or replacement.

Benefits of a sports guard can also include protecting your lips and cheeks from being cut or bruised by the edges of your braces or other dental appliances during impact while playing sports.

Which Sports Guard is Right for You?

Sports guards come in a variety of colors, styles and price points. Ready to wear sports guards are available at most sporting goods stores and are a great option, but your dentist can also help fit you with a custom mouth guard that may be more comfortable because it will be molded to fit to the shape of your teeth and mouth.

Ask your dentist for more information about which type of sports guard is best for your needs and when you should wear one to ensure you receive the most benefit from the sports guard of your choice.

Call our Tulsa Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.