CDA Recommends Protecting Your Smile With a Mouthguard

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Importance of protecting teeth from sports-related dental injuries

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Dental injuries can occur in all sports, but they are especially common in contact sports. Wearing a mouthguard can help protect the mouth and prevent damage to the teeth, lips, tongue and jaw.

As summer comes to an end and the school year begins, with it come popular fall sports and other outdoor activities. The California Dental Association is urging parents to protect their children’s teeth from sports-related dental injuries with the use of properly fitted mouthguards.

“Dental injuries can occur in all sports, but they are especially common in contact sports. Wearing a mouthguard can help protect the mouth and prevent damage to the teeth, lips, tongue and jaw,” said CDA President James Stephens, DDS.

Mouthguards are designed to help cushion the mouth, teeth and jaw, preventing significant damage where sports injuries are most prevalent. Different sports involve different levels of risk and potential injury, and while mouthguards are not required equipment in some sports, wearing one is an important precaution for athletes of any age and ability.

“For a mouthguard to be most effective, it is essential that it fit properly and stay in place during vigorous activity,” said Stephens. “There are several types of mouthguards and your dentist can help you decide which is best for you.”

Depending on the design and materials used, mouthguards will vary in fit, protection, ease of maintenance and longevity. There are three basic types of mouthguards: custom-made, mouth-formed and ready-made stock.

Custom-made mouthguards are formed by your dentist from a cast model of your teeth and are designed to cover all the teeth. These mouthguards can cushion falls and blows to the chin. Custom-made mouthguards may be slightly more expensive than commercially produced mouthpieces, but they offer the best possible fit and protection and are the most comfortable.

Mouth-formed mouthguards are generally made of acrylic gel or thermoplastic materials shaped to fit the contours of your teeth. They are placed in boiling water then attempted to be formed and molded to the teeth. They are commercially produced and do not offer the same fit and protection as a custom fitted mouthguard made from a model of the mouth.

Ready-made stock mouthguards are commercially produced, off-the-shelf mouthguards and are the least expensive, but also the least comfortable and the least effective protective mouthpieces. These rubber or polyvinyl pre-formed guards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.

For the best possible fit and protection, CDA recommends seeking the advice of your dentist.

To protect your teeth year round, brush with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice a day, floss daily, avoid sugary drinks like soda and visit the dentist for a checkup on a regular basis. For more information on mouthguards, call your CDA-member dentist or visit cda.org.

About the California Dental Association
The California Dental Association is the non-profit organization representing organized dentistry in California. Founded in 1870, CDA is committed to the success of our members in service to their patients and the public. CDA also contributes to the oral health of Californians through various comprehensive programs and advocacy. CDA’s membership consists of more than 25,000 dentists, making it the largest constituent of the American Dental Association. For more information, visit cda.org.

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Alicia Malaby
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