For many professional and amateur athletes, mouth guards are essential for protection and safety. Even children and teenagers may require this type of protective equipment in a variety of sports settings. While many universal-fit options are available and easy to access, most dental professionals recommend ordering a custom-fit model from the patient's dental care office. There are several benefits to wearing mouth guards while playing contact sports, and the advantages increase when a custom option is selected.
Sports that require mouth guard protection
Some of the most common high-contact sports that recommend or require the use of a mouth guard among all ages include:
- Martial arts
- Ice hockey
However, it may be appropriate to wear this protective gear when playing regular-contact sports, such as soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. This is especially true when a dental apparatus is worn by the participant. In fact, a mouth guard may be necessary when there is any risk of an impact while participating in a chosen sport.
Common dental injuries among athletes
Those who participate in intense- or high-contact sports are at an increased risk for experiencing tooth chips, cracks or loss due to a high impact injury. In addition, some athletes may experience issues with TMJ disorders. However, those who wear a protective mouth guard while participating in these activities can reduce the risk of serious injury by as much as 80%.
The benefits of custom options
While universal-fit mouth guards are relatively inexpensive and easy to buy, they do not offer the benefits and protection of a custom-fit design. It is important to schedule a consultation with a dental professional to learn the available options for a patient's specific oral health needs and level of activity.
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Improved fit and comfort
A custom-fit mouth guard is typically created using a model of the wearer's actual teeth. This can be obtained through impression molds or by creating a digital scan of the mouth and jaw. The model allows the manufacturer to produce a customized device that fits more securely in place. As a result, the guard is more likely to remain in the proper position during use.
Standard-fit mouth guards may slip and slide, leading to distraction and discomfort. Over time, the poor fit could also lead to lingering aches and pains in the teeth and jaw. However, a personalized guard can help prevent unnecessary tension and irritation.
Because a customized mouth guard is much more likely to stay put, it is able to perform its intended function more efficiently. A proper fit and stable position allows the device to sustain potential impacts with improved performance. Many custom products are also made of higher quality materials. This combination of advantages also helps ensure longevity, so the mouth guard doesn't wear out as quickly over time.
For many popular sports, mouth guards are essential to protect the athlete from harmful dental injuries. While every patient's needs are unique, most can benefit from choosing a custom product for improved protection and fit. A dental professional can offer guidance when choosing this important piece of protective equipment.
Request an appointment or call Steve S. Kim, DDS at 310-872-2354 for an appointment in our Torrance office.
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