It is important to keep your teeth protected during physical activity because that is the most likely time they will suffer damage. Your teeth aren’t just there for your smile—a complete set of chompers is necessary to bite, chew, and speak!
April is National Facial Protection Month. The American Dental Association is teaming up with the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry to spread awareness about the importance of using a mouthguard for dental protection in sports and other outdoor activities.
Sports Where Mouth and Facial Injuries are Most Likely
There are a few sports where players commonly wear mouthguards. This important tooth protection should be worn even during practice sessions with these intense physical activities:
- Boxing. Because participants will hit each other in their faces extensively, wearing a mouth guard is absolutely essential. In fact, boxing is the only professional sport requiring mouthguards.
- Football. Players wear helmets that provide a firm layer of facial protection. As an added precautionary measure, they are also required to wear mouth guards under the grills of their helmets, preventing the possibility of painful and inconvenient tooth injuries.
- Martial arts. Mouth protection is necessary in the sparring ring. In Olympic sparring, the head is an area where a blow will score a point, making the face and mouth vulnerable to accidental injury.
The National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association also require mouthguards in ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse. Those sticks pose a real danger to the teeth!
While these are some sports where athletes commonly wear mouthguards, dentists recommend a mouthguard for any contact sport or activity that could lead to mouth injury. That includes everything from soccer and basketball to biking, skateboarding and surfing.
Parents and coaches are responsible for setting an important teeth-saving tone: mouthguards should be non-negotiable in any contact or high-velocity activity, whether it’s competitive or just for fun. Athletes who wear mouthguards are between 82% and 93% less likely to experience dental injuries like crown fractures and complete tooth displacement.
A mouthguard must fit properly to effectively reduce the risk of dental injuries. Sporting goods stores sell semi-fitted mouth guards that you boil and bite to conform to the shape of your teeth, but an even better idea is to visit your dentist to get a custom guard made specifically for your mouth. Keeping your bite pristine is an important part of any athletic activity.