Save your smile with a mouth guard

Proper equipment is a necessity when participating in sports. Just like it would be difficult to play softball without a bat or soccer without a ball, it is also difficult to play sports without a mouth guard. But a mouth guard is one piece of equipment that is often overlooked when packing a gym bag.

An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard. According to the American Dental Association, when properly fitted, a mouth guard will cushion blows that can cause broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw, as well as reduce the severity and incidence of concussions.

Who needs a mouth guard?
A common thought is that only contact sports, like hockey or football, necessitate a mouth guard. However, studies show that even participants in non-contact sports such as gymnastics, skateboarding and basketball can prevent possible injuries to the mouth and jaws by wearing mouth guards.  

What kinds of mouth guards are available?
Ready-made (stock) mouth guards can be purchased from the base exchange. This is the cheapest option, but stock mouth guards offer the least protection due to limited adjustment to the fit.

Boil-and-bite mouth guards, which are immersed in boiling water, transferred to cold water and then adapted to the teeth, fit better and offer more protection than stock mouth guards.

Finally, a custom mouth guard can be made by your dentist. Your dentist makes your custom mouth guard on a mold of your upper teeth. This guard offers superior fit, comfort and protection.

When choosing a mouth guard, look for one that is resilient and tear resistant, fits properly and is comfortable, is easy to clean, and doesn’t restrict breathing or speech.

How do you care for your mouth guard once you have one?  
Rinse your mouth guard before and after each use with cold water. Always check your mouth guard for holes and to see whether it has become loose. Replace an ill-fitting or damaged mouth guard to ensure maximum protection each time you wear it.

The Ramstein Dental Clinic hosts a custom mouth guard clinic starting at 8 a.m. Sept. 17 in Bldg. 301.

For more information about mouth guards, call the 86th Dental Squadron at 479-2210.

(Courtesy of the 86th Dental Squadron)