As an athlete, you know that sports can be rough. Whether you're playing football, basketball, hockey, or any other contact sport, there's always a risk of injury. One of the most common injuries in sports is dental trauma, which can be caused by a blow to the face or a fall. That's why wearing a mouthguard during sports is so important. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of wearing a mouthguard and why it's a must-have piece of sports equipment.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a protective device that covers the teeth and gums to prevent dental trauma. It's made of a soft, flexible material that conforms to the shape of your mouth. Mouthguards are available in different sizes and shapes to fit different mouths and sports.
The Benefits of Wearing a Mouthguard
1. Prevents Dental Trauma
The most obvious benefit of wearing a mouthguard is that it prevents dental trauma. A mouthguard acts as a cushion that absorbs the impact of a blow to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth, lacerations, and other injuries to the mouth.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to suffer dental injuries than those who do wear them. That's a staggering statistic that highlights the importance of wearing a mouthguard during sports.
2. Protects Against Concussions
In addition to preventing dental trauma, a mouthguard can also protect against concussions. Concussions are a common injury in contact sports, and they can have serious long-term consequences. A mouthguard can reduce the force of a blow to the head, which can help prevent a concussion.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that high school football players who wore custom-fitted mouthguards had a lower incidence of concussions than those who wore over-the-counter mouthguards or no mouthguards at all.
3. Improves Breathing and Performance
Believe it or not, wearing a mouthguard can actually improve your breathing and performance. When you wear a mouthguard, your jaw is held in a slightly forward position, which opens up your airway. This can help you breathe more easily and improve your endurance. Additionally, some studies have shown that wearing a mouthguard can improve your balance and reaction time.
4. Boosts Confidence
Finally, wearing a mouthguard can boost your confidence on the field or court. When you know that you're protected against dental trauma and concussions, you can play with more confidence and focus on your game.
Types of Mouthguards
There are three main types of mouthguards: stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and custom mouthguards.
Stock mouthguards are pre-made and come in a one-size-fits-all design. They're the least expensive option, but they also offer the least amount of protection and are often uncomfortable to wear.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards are made of a thermoplastic material that softens when heated in boiling water. After heating, you bite into the mouthguard to create a custom fit. Boil-and-bite mouthguards offer better protection than stock mouthguards and are more comfortable to wear.
Custom mouthguards are made by a dentist or orthodontist and are the most expensive option. They're made from a mold of your teeth, which ensures a perfect fit and maximum protection. Custom mouthguards are also the most comfortable to wear.
How to Choose a Mouthguard
When choosing a mouthguard, there are a few things to consider:
Different sports require different types of mouthguards. For example, football players need a mouthguard that can withstand hard hits, while basketball players need a mouthguard that allows for easy communication with teammates.
A mouthguard that's uncomfortable to wear is less likely to be used. Look for a mouthguard that fits well and is made of a comfortable material.
The level of protection offered by a mouthguard varies depending on the type. Consider the level of contact in your sport and choose a mouthguard that offers adequate protection.
How to Care for Your Mouthguard
To ensure that your mouthguard lasts as long as possible and provides maximum protection, it's important to take care of it properly. Here are some tips for caring for your mouthguard:
- Rinse your mouthguard with water before and after each use.
- Clean your mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste after each use.
- Store your mouthguard in a ventilated container to allow it to dry out.
- Avoid exposing your mouthguard to high temperatures, such as leaving it in a hot car.
- Replace your mouthguard if it becomes damaged or worn out.
In conclusion, wearing a mouthguard during sports is essential for protecting your teeth, preventing concussions, improving breathing and performance, and boosting confidence. There are different types of mouthguards to choose from, so consider your sport, comfort, and level of protection when making your choice. Remember, a mouthguard is a small investment that can have a big impact on your health and safety on the field or court.