“What About Sports and Mouth Guards?”

If you’re an athlete, you should wear a mouth guard. No matter what type of contact sport is at hand, sports-related dental injuries are extremely common, accounting for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year alone! Chipped and broken teeth, jaw bone injuries and concussions to the brain are just a few of the many serious injuries athletes face which can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard. If you’re one of 4 million scuba diving enthusiasts, a good fitting mouth piece could prevent jaw joint pain, toothache or gum irritation when coming to the surface. For ultimate performance, a mouth guard will reposition the jaw to properly open the airway and increase the oxygen intake, which can be very beneficial for athletes who posses deep bite issues.

Sports Mouthguards

Besides preventing sports injuries [and other benefits of wearing a properly fitted mouth guard], one should look into other aspects of the mouth guard. In particular, the proper cleaning and storing of your mouth guard will prevent it from growing harmful bacteria and mold which could be life-threatening. Noted in a recent dental publication in the September/October 2007 issue of General Dentistry, mouth guards “harbor large numbers of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can possibly lead to life and/or health-threatening infectious/inflammatory diseases.”

The material used in mouth guard construction is not completely solid – like most plastics, the surface of a mouth guard is porous, and can harbor microscopic bacteria if not cleaned and stored properly. If these tiny organisms are allowed to grow and multiply, the mouth guard which is meant to protect you could actually be harming your teeth, gums and bodily health.

To assure a clean and properly functioning mouth guard, both your mouth and the mouth guard should be clean before wearing it. Be sure not to share guards between team members. Once you are finished with the mouth guard, brush it with toothpaste and rinse it under running water. Once the guard has been properly cleaned, store it in an open air container – a sealed space will promote bacterial growth.

Getting your mouth guard over the counter might work for some of you, but it would be best to bring it into your dentist’s office and have it checked for a proper fit – you may need to have a custom piece made. A poorly fitting mouth guard is useless, and your health is invaluable.

Leave a Reply