A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. It is most often used to prevent injury in contact sports.
According to Dr. Ray Padilla, past President of the Academy of Sports Dentistry, the best mouthguard (based on research evidence), remains one that is custom designed and made by a dental professional with the athlete’s individual needs taken into account. The age of a child or adolescent athlete and the possibility of providing space for erupting (growing) teeth and jaws, can be accommodated with a custom-made guard. Even the very best over the counter product cannot insure quality and effectiveness.
Regardless of whether you choose a custom mouthguard (made by a dentist) or an over-the-counter mouthguard (one bought at a store), children and adolescents who play sports should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and gums.
Here are some statistics to help emphasize the importance of mouthguards:
- An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard! (American Dental Association)
- It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year (Academy of General Dentistry)
- Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year! (U.S. Centers for Disease Control)
- Victims of knocked out teeth who do not have a tooth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth! (National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety)