In our office, it is important to remind our orthodontic patients about protection and wearing a mouthguard. While it may be common sense that wearing a mouthguard while playing sports is a good idea to avoid dental trauma, it may be also helpful to know a few interesting facts about them.
1) Give me the numbers: According to recent research, the following facts are true:
• Every year, there are about 15 million dental injuries, 5 million involved an avulsed tooth (knocked out) and a median of 26% were sports related.
• Males are twice as likely to be traumatized by a dental injury
• Children ages 7-10 are most likely to be injured.
• The National Federation of State High School Associations mandates mouthguards for only four sports: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey. Wrestlers are mandated if they have fixed orthodontic appliances.
2) Those must be the sports with the most injuries, right? While these organized sports are top contenders for oral injury, they are not the worst contenders:
• In a study of 3,411 athletes, basketball was a top sport for orofacial injury for both males and females. In that study, none injured were wearing a mouthguard. Personally speaking, in the 20+ years I have been in practice, I have never had a patient with a dental injury from playing football, ice hockey or lacrosse. Those leagues mandate mouthguards for their players. The one sport that I see dental injuries in my patients every year is basketball. It is usually the same story: both team’s players are down at one end of the court trying to get the ball as it comes off the backboard and someone gets an elbow to the mouth. When I ask if the player was wearing a mouthguard, the answer has always been “No.” Parents – please have your child wear a mouthguard for basketball, especially if they are in braces.
• For those younger children, baseball has the top incidence of trauma.
• Many dental injuries happen with non-contact, non-organized sports where people would not wear a mouthguard. We can vouch for the top recreational bicycle vs. pavement finding. Although not listed in this study, our office has a high incidence rate of “sibling-caused” dental injury.
3) Does it matter what type of mouthguard is worn with braces? Good question. There are several opinions on the boil-and-bite vs. stock-type mouthguard during orthodontic treatment.
• Stock-type mouthguards:
– Pros: fit over braces for the duration of the sport season without refitting. Allow for tooth movement during treatment time. These are the types of mouthguards we have in our office for patients.
– Cons: Must be held in place by biting, inhibiting speech. Due to their one-size-fits-most limitation, they can be more bulky and ill-fitting, causing the patient to not wear the mouthguard.
• Boil and Bite mouthguards:
– Pros: Better fitting for increased compliance, recommended by the Academy of Sports Dentistry.
– Cons: For patients in braces, as teeth move during treatment, the mouthguard needs to be frequently refit. We note an increase in breakage of braces due to forced fitting and removal of this type of mouthguard. These types can get stuck on the braces and break the braces off the teeth.
Source: www.dentalcare.com/en-us/professional-education/ce-courses/ce127/stock-mouthguards Accessed September, 5, 2019