With March Madness nearly upon us, it’s a good time to remind our future WNBA and NBA stars about the importance of protecting your teeth while on the court. As many as a third of all dental injuries are sports related, according to the American Dental Association, and losing a tooth getting a rebound is painful and will take you out of the game.
Full-contact sports, like football, hockey, and boxing, require the use of mouthguards. “Incidental” contact sports, like baseball, soccer, and basketball, don’t require mouthguards, but it’s not unusual to see the pros wearing them. Max Benton, athletic trainer for the Cavaliers, is a big proponent of mouthguards.
“Athletes of any age should be aware of the possibility of an injury to the mouth,” he cautions NBA fans. “Dental injuries are one of the most common types of preventable injuries and people can significantly reduce their risk for injury with a mouthguard.” This is clearly important to the Cavaliers and none of them have expensive braces!
There are three kinds of mouthguards available. In most sporting-goods stores you’ll find your basic stock mouthguards come in various sizes, but mouths are very individual in shape and size. A basic guard will not fit perfectly and they can make it difficult to talk or breathe through your mouth.
A step up from the stock mouthguards are the mouth-formed guards. Boiling water is used to soften them so they can be individually fitted to your mouth.
The best mouthguards are custom-built from a plaster mold of your mouth. The cushioning protection they offer for the entire jaw can even help prevent concussions. Talk to a kids dentist about which mouthguard will work best. Drs. Hirano and Roberson would be happy to explain the quick procedure.
Whatever mouthguard you decide to use, it’s important that you wear it and take care of it. Benton recommends that you, “keep it in its original container, rinse often, and wash with soap and water or mouthwash.”
And whatever you do… catch the ball with your hands; not your mouth!