Are Mouthguards Necessary?
Thursday October 1, 1998
Dear Dr. Mady: I am a 25-year-old who has a great love for racquetball. I recently was told by my dentist that I should be wearing a mouthguard while playing. Is this really necessary? --Mike
Absolutely! Do not allow yourself to become a victim of a preventable sports injury.
Listen to your dentist and wear a mouthguard. I realize they are not mandatory for any sport, but their worth is non-arguable.
As a dentist I've seen many injuries that could have been prevented if only a mouthguard was worn. They not only limit damage to teeth but also help protect the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue and even assist in stopping concussions. Any type of blow that an athlete may take in the head or neck area can be cushioned by a mouthguard.
Taking all of this into consideration, it is important to realize mouthguards can be custom-made, mouth-formed or purchased ready-made.
The custom type is fabricated by your dentist on a plaster model of your mouth and jaws for complete coverage. They usually are very comfortable and will not interfere with breathing. These offer the best protection and fit, although they are more costly than other types.
Mouth-formed mouthguards have to be boiled in water and softened up. Even though your dentist can assist you in fitting these, they are an inferior choice because they will not work well on patients who wear braces, they do not cover all the anatomy they usually become brittle with time and ultimately useless.
The third type, cheapest and least user-friendly, are the ready-made mouthguards. These are formed out of polyvinyl or rubber. They could cause more damage during trauma and I do not recommend their use.
So teach yourself or ask your dentist about the most common oral injuries associated with the sports you play and protect yourself by wearing a mouthguard.
Use the custom-made type fitted by your dentist, especially if you wear braces or other oral appliances. Never wear removable partial dentures, or any removable dental devices for that matter, during sports or exercise.
Whatever your sport or age, mouthguards are an excellent form of safety. You are only given one set of permanent teeth. Do whatever you can to protect them, your smile and also preserve your health.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5