We've all heard the harrowing stories which start with a mouth guard which was lost or left at home or simply never used. The story continues with the elbow in the mouth or the hockey ball in the teeth or the fall on the face and sadly it ends with disaster - most soul destroying of all - when our children lose their adult teeth!
Teeth are one of the very few parts of your body which cannot repair when broken or cracked.
Damaged teeth are very expensive to put right, especially when one considers the repeat treatments that will be required throughout life as things wear, fail & need replaced every so often!
Thankfully though around 90% of dental injuries can be prevented by using a properly designed mouth guard.
A mouth guard is a flexible soft plastic shield which is shaped to fit precisely over teeth and gums. Generally it is only needed for upper teeth. Its purpose is to reduce or eliminate damage to the teeth, lips or brain during an impact to the jaws from any hard object.
Who needs to wear a mouth guard?
Often we think first of our children when it comes to mouth guards and certainly if your child plays a contact sport it is important they use one, but mouth guards should be used by anyone, children or adults, who play contact sports such as rugby, hockey, football, boxing, basketball.
There are three types of mouth guards:
Stock mouth guards come ready to wear. They are inexpensive but also uncomfortable and most concerning of all, provide little or no protection. They require jaws to be closed to hold them in place as they do not grip around teeth and easily fall out. Dentists do not recommend their use.
Boil and bite mouth guards can also be bought at most sports stores and offer a slightly better fit than stock mouth protectors. The "boil and bite" mouth guard is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and moulded around the teeth. Care must be taken not to overheat them thus making them too thin in places. Whilst they do give more protection than not wearing any kind of mouth guard at all, it is worth considering that they are not as comfortable or as durable as a custom-fitted guard and the wearer must be careful as often they become loose with wear, enabling them to fall out on impact and meaning you have no protection when you most need it.
Custom-fitted dentist made mouth guards make sense since everyone's mouth is a different shape. Such a guard is individually designed by your dentist using impressions. This ensures closest fit for comfort and the best protection possible without inhibiting speech or breathing. It will also minimise the risk of the guard falling out during action.
Good mouth guards don't just protect your teeth. A properly fitted, custom-made mouth guard can help to minimise or eliminate the following injuries:
• Lacerations to lips, cheeks and tongue from contact against teeth
• Broken teeth
• Intruded teeth (rammed up into their sockets)
• Avulsed teeth (completely knocked out)
• Injury to jaw joints (which can cause lifetime pain and or arthritic change)
• Fractures of facial bones which can cause facial deformity
• Cerebral haemorrhages
• Incidents of unconsciousness
• Choking (on a dislodged mouth guard)
• Asphyxiation (cannot breathe because of airway blocked by poor fitting mouth guard in an unconscious, knocked out, person)
• In some instances neck injuries
How often should I replace my child's mouth guard?
Depending on the child's growth, mouth guards may need to be replaced once or twice a year. Just like shoes, except we cannot incorporate too much space to grow into in the mouth guard or it won't fit!
Can I Wear a Mouth Guard if I have Bridgework or wear Braces?
Yes. Since an injury to the face could damage braces or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. We use a special technique to make mouth guards for brace wearers which few other practices employ, and it costs only £10 extra.
How Do I Care for My Mouth Guard?
Rinse with cold water or a mouth rinse before and after each use and be sure to clean it with a toothbrush and water.
Keep the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container when it is not being used. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage from bacterial mould growth. Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight, as this will distort its shape - permanently. Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, see your dentist.
We provide mouth guards in a huge range of colours and coloured stripes combinations so that the wearer's team or school sports strip can be matched! Or you can just make a crazy combo! Turquoise and fluorescent pink seem to be popular with the girls recently.
What can I expect to pay if I don't wear a mouth guard?
At current prices, a teenager who loses just one front tooth will expect to pay around £10,000 during their lifetime to fix and maintain this. Then there is the physical cost in pain of the injury, and the emotional cost of losing your smile.
I recently had an unfortunate patient - a girl 19 years old - call me in great distress. She had been at hockey practice, wearing her mouth guard throughout. As practice was coming to an end, they decided to do a few short corner set pieces. Foolishly she had left her mouth guard out at the end of the practice match. The ball flicked up off her stick and caught her squarely in the mouth, breaking most of her front tooth off; and this just days before an important formal dinner event!
The happy ending to the story is that I was able to rebuild her tooth and she was awarded the "Best Smile" award from her university class at the dinner. She will however have the ongoing repair & replacement costs in the future.
Get organised, get protected - call us and get a mouth guard before it's too late.