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There are between 650,000 and 2 million sports-related dental and oral injuries annually. Many sports, including football, require mouth guards for protection, but most do not. What do you know?
True or false
1. Mouth guards protect against concussion.
2. Missouri high school soccer requires mouth guards.
3. Missouri high school baseball requires mouth guards.
Mouth guards are intended to protect teeth from fracture and avulsion. They also protect lips, tongue and gums.
A properly fitted guard should stay in place during physical activity, be easily removed and not interfere with breathing or talking according to the American Dental Association.
There are 3 types of mouth guards: stock; boil and bite and custom-fitted. Stock guards are one-size-fits-all devices which are ready to wear.
Unfortunately, they are the least protective and most poorly-fitted of any of the guards. Stock guards are, however, the most inexpensive and easily found for less than 5 dollars. ‘Boil and bite’ guards are very malleable when heated in boiling water making them easily formed to teeth. They fit very well, if directions are followed. Boil and bite guards offer good protection and are moderately priced, usually less than 20 dollars. The most expensive, but most protective, are custom-fitted guards.
These are formed and fitted by a dentist and are better than any off the shelf version. Also, they can often last through several seasons.
Although not required, the use of a mouth guard in basketball and any contact and collision sport is strongly urged by most sports medicine societies. High school softball, a fall sport in Missouri, does not require mouth guards.
However, all players should consider using them. It is frightful to see a line drive speeding toward the face of a girl playing third base 25 feet or closer to the batter.
First basemen (women?!) and batters are also at high risk. There are guards designed specifically for girls and women with smaller and narrower gums than boys.
There have been many assertions that mouth guards prevent concussions. They do not.
There is no good scientific evidence to support these claims. There is no question they protect teeth and mouth.
If you participate in any contact or collision sport, ask your dentist about mouth guards, even if your sport does not require it.
Common sense should prevail over any particular sports-specific rule. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound (or thousands of dollars) at the emergency department or dentist’s office. Athletes are more beautiful when they have all of their teeth and no stitches.
It’s not wimpy to wear a mouth guard, its smart.
Be a trendsetter.
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