There are some things that are just common sense. If you're going to play football, you need shoulder pads, a helmet and a mouth guard. But did you know the majority of oral injuries happen in sports other than football?
Check out these statistics. More than 3 million teeth will be knocked out during youth sporting activities this year, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates. Chipping or knocking out a tooth is an expensive price to pay for a game. The cost of treating an avulsed permanent tooth, including the follow-up care, is between $5,000 and $20,000, the Foundation found.
Mouthguards could prevent more than 200,000 injuries a year to high school and college athletes, according to the American Dental Association. Right now, mouthguards are mandatory for only four high school sports in most parts of the country: football, ice hockey, lacrosse and field hockey. But anytime you have a risk of hitting your head, you should wear a mouthguard, said Dr. Diaa Ghabbour, a senior doctor at Coast Dental Wesley Chapel.
"We had a child, about 12 years old, who was playing baseball and he lifted the glove up, misjudged the catch, and the ball hit him in the face and knocked the front tooth loose. His parents had to hold the tooth in place in his mouth and rush him in for emergency treatment," Dr. Ghabbour said.
"Another time, my friend’s 8-year-old daughter was on her bicycle and she hit a curb, fell on the concrete and knocked a tooth loose. It had to be bonded to the other teeth and she’ll need more care in the future," he said.
Parents may not think about buying a mouthguard for sports like basketball, but they should. A 1995 study by Dr. Raymond Flanders found that in football, where mouth guards are worn, .07% of injuries were orofacial. In basketball, where mouthguards are not routinely worn, 34% of the injuries were to the teeth and mouth.
The American Dental Association recommends mouthguards for acrobatics, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shotputting, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. The ideas of wearing a mouthguard for some of these might make you laugh, until you think what your daughter might suffer if she fell off the balance beam or the damage your young snowboarder could do if he crashed into a tree.
Some kids don’t want to wear a mouthguard because they think they're uncomfortable. The cheapest kinds are. There are three basic types of mouth guards:
Pre-made stock mouth protectors: These are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good and department stores. However, they’re bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult. Dentists don’t recommend their use.
Boil and bite mouth protectors: These can also be bought at many stores. They are made of a special plastic that you place in hot water to soften, and then place the protector into your mouth and shape it around your teeth.
Custom-fitted mouthguards: Your dentist works with you to create a mouthguard that provides the maximum safety and comfort. It will be durable, easy to clean, tasteless and odorless and won't restrict your breathing or ability to speak. Custom-fitted mouthguards range in cost. The FIERCE Mouthguard ranges from less than $100 to $300, depending on the level of sport-specific protection.
"If you’re playing sports, you’re going to want a custom-made mouthguard," Dr. Ghabbour said. "It’s like anything else in life: you’ve got to invest in the prevention or you’re going to spend a lot more money to fix the problem. It’s like insurance. When you need it, you're happy it’s there."
Wesley Chapel dentist Diaa Ghabbour, DMD, has been practicing dentistry since 2000. He provides general dentistry services to patients age 9 and up. His services include dental implant restorations, extractions and periodontal disease management. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. He practices at Coast Dental Wesley Chapel, 5348 County Road 581, Wesley Chapel, Florida, 33544. The phone number is (813) 973-1837.
Written By: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed By: Diaa Ghabbour, DMD
Reviewed By: Cindy Roark, DMD