Guard your mouth to protect your grill

Staff Sgt. Jackie D. Holcomb III 86th Dental Squadron

A recent issue in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported 13 to 39 percent of all dental injuries are sports related, and more than five million teeth are knocked out each year. Many of these injuries could have been prevented.
The 86th Dental Squadron preventive dentistry team will be at the 86th Medical Group Sports Physical Day on Saturday to help avoid such injuries.
An essential step to preventing oral injuries is the proper use of athletic mouth guards. Several types of mouth guards are available and choosing the best one for you is vital to maintaining a healthy smile.
The most popular among athletes is the “custom” mouth guard. This requires a dental visit to accomplish molds of your teeth so that a one-of-a-kind, perfect-fit mouth guard can be fabricated.
The more common alternative is a “boil and bite” mouth guard, made from thermoplastic materials. The “boil and bite” mouth guard, as the name indicates, is placed in hot water to soften then immediately bitten to impress and preserve a mold of the teeth. It will not contour and conform to every tooth structure; however, one can still achieve a safe and effective fit.
Another oral protective device is the “stock” mouth guard. A “stock” mouth guard is similar to the “boil and bite” mouth guard in that it is pre-fabricated. Unlike the “boil and bite,” little can be done to adjust the fit which minimizes the protection it provides.
Regardless of the sport or activity being performed, thought should be given to whether or not an oral safety device is needed, because participating in your favorite sport can be fun and rewarding, but protecting your teeth from sports-related injuries can be an even bigger reward.
For more information regarding mouth guards, visit the 86th DS preventive dentistry team in building 2114 on Sports Physical Day, or call DSN 479-2210 or commercial 06371-46-2210.