There’s nothing like playing a sport. You get to push your body and mind to its limits, refine difficult skills, burn tons of calories, and enjoy a rush of endorphins. Physical activity is a wonderful thing for your mind and body. And while sports and physical activities have abundant wellness benefits, an injury—especially one that affects your mouth and face, could be devastating.
Sports-induced oral health injuries can be severe and require multiple invasive treatments and surgeries. They are also incredibly painful. While modern dentistry and medicine can help you get your comfort and quality of life back on track, prevention is always best.
Wearing a mouthguard—particularly one that is custom made by your dentist—is one of the best ways to prevent sports-related facial trauma.
Sports-Related Facial Injuries: The Painful Truth
A hard tumble on the court or a hard bump into an opponent’s elbow could land you in the emergency room with crippling pain and far-reaching damage to precious oral tissue. When it comes to a sports-related facial injury, the effects are dizzying and distressing. Blunt trauma to the oral cavity and face can lead to broken and knocked out teeth, fractured facial bones, dislocated jawbones, and deep lacerations into the lips and cheeks.
Some traumatic facial injuries can be mild but the best-case scenario is normally a knocked out tooth. The worst-case scenario is far more disturbing. Facial trauma can cause multiple injuries to different types of tissue at once. A blow to the face could require multiple types treatment from an ER physician, an oral maxillofacial surgeon, and a dentist—not to mention multiple surgeries and months of down time spent healing.
Patients with severe facial injuries might need a combination of treatments such as:
- Corrective jaw surgery
- Tooth extractions
- Dental implant placement
- Suturing of lacerated soft tissue
- Restorations like dental crowns and bridges
When the oral cavity endures trauma, special care has to be taken because the oral health system is delicate and complex. There are numerous nerve endings, capillaries, and blood vessels to consider when providing treatment.
If the jaws are affected, correcting broken bones and misalignments takes time and invasive care. Slightly misaligned jaws can throw a big wrench into a person’s quality of life—leaving them with frequent discomfort and diminished oral function. Correcting something like broken jawbones requires precise care from a specialist like an oral surgeon.
Statistics Reveal Why Mouthguards are Necessary
If you’re still not sold on the need for mouthguards, the numbers might convince you. An alarming number of athletes and parents of child-aged athletes don’t use mouthguards. As it stands now, a whopping 200,000 facial injuries are prevented each year among those who do wear recommended safety gear like mouthguards and chin straps.
This number could be higher, though. Much higher. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation’s study in 2012, as many as three million teeth were knocked out by sports injuries. The Center for Disease Control also estimates that there are over 7 million sports-related injuries for youth, teens, and adults annually. Unfortunately, not wearing mouthguards increases a person’s risks for sport-induced dental injuries by 60 times.
When you look at the numbers, wearing a mouthguard just makes sense.
Sports and Activities Where Mouthguards are Recommended
You might be surprised to learn how often mouthguards are recommended for sports and physical activities. Many people know that mouthguards are especially important for contact sports like boxing and wrestling but might be surprised to learn that they’re recommended for other activities like skateboarding, horseback riding, and football.
Here are some other activities and sports for which the American Dental Association recommends wearing mouthguards:
- Field Hockey
- Martial Arts
- Shot Put
Types of Mouthguards
There are a couple of types of mouthguards. Sporting goods stores and large supermarkets carry ready-made mouthguards that come in various sizes as well as “boil and bite” mouthguards that can conform better to a person’s unique oral anatomy. While these mouthguards can prevent some facial injuries, the best option for protection and comfort is to have a custom mouthguard made by your dentist.
A custom mouthguard is made to very exact specifications so that it properly covers (and protects) your teeth. Custom oral appliances will fit more comfortably, too. A comfortable mouthguard is more likely to be used.
Our Lafayette, LA family dentist offers custom mouthguards to help you protect you and your children’s oral health. Call our friendly team today to schedule a consultation.