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We are gearing up for spring season athletes to be starting games and practices in the coming weeks. With more sports come more athletes with potential for musculoskeletal injuries. We of course will see many of the common injuries such as ankle sprains, strained muscles, overall soreness and more but injuries that are not really prepared for the most are dental and oral injuries. For every sport, there is some form of protective equipment that is required to be worn from helmets, to pads, to goggles and face masks to help to prevent possible injuries. But there is one small piece of protective equipment that is over looked by most athletes and can help decrease the amount of oral injuries seen is a mouth guard. There are only a few sports that require mouth guards to be worn during participation at all times, such as football, lacrosse and ice hockey. However, though it is highly recommended for all physical activity and sports to use a mouth guard during participation many do not. Studies have shown that athletes have a 1 in 10 chance of receiving a facial or oral injury during their season. If we take just a few extra precautions by either providing mouth guards or highly suggesting that mouth guards be used during play we can help minimize dental and other oral injuries in the future.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are different kinds of mouth guards out there but they are for the most part broken into two kinds, one being the boil and bite or stock mouth guards that you can get from most sport stores or the fabricated ones that require a dentist to make specifically for the individual. The boil and bite mouth guards are most often used since they are cheaper and easily accessible. But they are usually a one size fits all kind of item so many will have issues with them fitting properly and causing athletes discomfort thereby causing them to not want to wear one. The athlete will place the mouth guard into boiling water making it pliable. Then placed into the mouth while waiting for the plastic to cool down and form to the mouth and teeth as best it can. The other type of mouth guard is one that is fabricated by a dentist specifically for the athlete using a plaster mold of the athlete’s mouth and teeth. These mouth guards are the best way to go but can be expensive therefore only seen with athletes who need a well fitted mouth guard such as though with braces or with athletes who need to be able to talk freely but require using one in their sports like quarterbacks.
Treatment for Dental Injuries
When it comes to oral and dental injuries, the athlete should be sent to a dentist or dental specialist for proper care. Depending on severity of the dental or oral injury, it will determine if the injury will need to seek emergency dental treatment or not. The earlier the athlete can be treated the overall care and outcome of the injury will be beneficial.
Preventing Dental Injuries
The first step in preventing oral injuries is to educate the community, both the athletes and health care professionals, on the benefits of using a mouth guard during all sport related activity; and dispelling myths that athletes might have about wearing mouth guards such as it restricting them to breath freely. Showing that mouth guards can decrease the amount of oral injuries during sports due to contact from other athletes or equipment used in the activity. Also, whether an athlete or health care professional, helping to promote that mouth guards be required to be worn by all sports during participation and to enforce the requirements that are already out there.