Since the 1990s, the American Dental Association (ADA) has actively advocated for the use of mouthguards during recreational and sports activities. If you’re an athlete of any stripe, you should consider the recommendations regarding the use of orofacial protectors. Book an appointment at one the Washington locations of Northwest Dental -- Bellingham, Burlington, Arlington, Everett, or Oak Harbor -- to find out if a mouthguard is recommended for you.
The short answer is anyone who plays a sport. Most people are aware of the need for mouth protection in activities such as football and boxing, but there are many other situations in which your mouth should be protected. The ADA notes that gymnastics and skating both have high rates of dental injury.
Use of a mouthguard is recommended for the following activities, as well as any others that pose a risk of injury to the lips, tongue, gums, or teeth:
There are three basic types of mouthguards: stock, boil and bite, and custom made. The type you should choose depends on the activity you’ll be doing while wearing it and how often you participate in that activity, among other factors.
These are the least expensive and arguably least effective of the three types. However, they’re readily available at most sporting goods stores as well as other retail outlets, and something is better than nothing. Stock mouthguards are one-size-fits-all.
Just as the name says, you heat a boil-and-bite mouthguard in water, then bite down on it so that it forms to the shape of your teeth. These protective devices are also available at many sporting goods stores and may be more comfortable than stock mouthguards.
The most protective type of mouthguard is one that’s custom-made for your mouth by a dentist. They’re more expensive, but also more comfortable and longer-lasting. Also, the dentists at Northwest Dental can provide you with important guidance and advice on protecting your mouth during athletics.
Whichever type of device you choose, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. When a product has the ADA seal, you have an assurance that it won’t irritate your mouth, there’s a low risk of injury due to using it, and it’s free of sharp or jagged edges. These mouthguards have passed tests for hardness, tear-resistance, and the ability to withstand hard impacts.
Yes, and in fact, it may be even more important for you to wear a mouthguard if you have braces because the potential for injury is higher. If you have any kind of fixed oral appliance, such as braces, it is especially important for you to have a custom-made mouthguard to protect both your mouth and the appliance.