It is recommended to wear a sports guard while playing any sport that involves contact and can result in injury. Contact may be with another person or an object such as a puck. Common sports that require mouth guards are basketball, hockey, football and lacrosse. Without a sports guard, a player is at a much higher risk of injury and tooth loss. Many leagues already require players to wear sports guards, but even if a league doesn’t require it, it is still best practice. Tooth trauma from sports can result in a costly dental bill and causes unnecessary injury and stress.
Common injuries that can occur to a tooth due to a sports injury are:
Avulsion– this occurs when the tooth is completely lost from the socket. Essentially, when a tooth or teeth fall out.
Luxation– Describes when a tooth is displaced within the socket. This occurs when the tooth stays within the socket but is shifted either back or forward. The tooth will typically be loose.
Intrusion– Intrusion occurs when a tooth gets pushed farther into the socket, which appears as less of the tooth showing through the gum tissue.
It is challenging to save the tooth in most of these scenarios because damage occurs to the delicate nerve and blood vessel from within.
A sports guard is a plastic tray that covers all the teeth to act as a cushion. It prevents trauma from blows to the face and the teeth knocking against each other. A sports guard should fit snugly to the teeth and not be loose enough to pop out with the tongue. There are two main types of sports guards, which are custom-fitted and store-bought.
This type of guard is fabricated at a dental office and dental lab and is a custom-fitted tray to each individual’s teeth. Custom-fitted sports guards offer the best protection for the teeth and jaw.
This type of guard can be purchased at a sporting goods store and usually involves boiling the material and biting into it to create a mould. Although these guards offer a moderate amount of protection, they are not form-fitted and don’t offer as much protection as a custom-fitted guard.