It’s that time of year again. The sun is out, the grass is green and young athletes take the field for another season of sports. From volleyball to baseball, every sport has gear to keep players from getting hurt, but one of the most important pieces of protective equipment often gets overlooked - the mouth guard.
A mouth guard is a piece of safety equipment worn in a player’s mouth that protects his or her teeth, mouth, cheeks and jaw from injury. Cuts, bruises, broken teeth, brain injury, and even broken bones can all be prevented by wearing a mouth guard and wearing it correctly.
If there’s a chance a player will be playing on a hard surface, making contact with other players, playing with a ball, playing with a stick or riding a bike or skateboard, wearing a mouth guard is a good idea. Since the chance of injury is so high, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You can usually find three different kinds of mouth guards with different levels of protection.
Off-the-shelf mouth guard: Offers the lowest level of defense from injury. It can be plastic or rubber and the fit might not be right for all players. A player’s jaw has to be closed for it to be held in place.
Mouth-formed mouth guard: Mouth-formed mouth guards are molded to a player’s bite and are custom-fit to a player’s mouth and come in two varieties. The first kind uses a material that a player bites into to make a mold of his or her teeth. The mold fits in a tray and hardens to make a liner. The other is called a boil-and-bite, where the material is softened in hot water and shaped around the teeth as the material molds to the player’s mouth.
Custom-made mouth guard: These are made by your dentist and offer the best protection and comfort. It’s made from a cast of your teeth, which is then made into a mold for your guard.
To make sure your mouth guard does its job, there are a few things you can do:
Find the right fit, keep it safe, and keep it clean and your mouth guard will do its job in your mouth while you stay safe doing your job in the game.
Last updated April 2014
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