Whether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries received by athletes. Mouth guards help protect your teeth and gums. If you participate in basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, track and field, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, skydiving, soccer, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting or wrestling, it is recommended by the American Dental Association that you wear a mouthguard.
Types of Mouth guardsChoosing the right mouthguard is important. There are three basic types of mouth guards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, well fitted for your mouth and easy to keep clean. Also make sure it does not prevent you from breathing properly during use. If you wear braces or a retainer, it is imperative for you to wear a mouthguard. Your dentist can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.
Taking Care of Your MouthguardSimilar to a retainer, braces, or any other special dental appliance, it is important to take care of your mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean. You should also know when to replace your old mouth guard with a new one. Here are a few simple ways to keep your mouthguard clean and working correctly:
- Gently scrub your mouthguard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store your mouthguard in a protective case.
- Do not leave your mouthguard in the sun or in hot water; it may melt or become deformed.
- Replace your mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season. You should also replace your mouthguard if you notice it has become worn and no longer fits properly.
- Do not wear a retainer with your mouthguard. If you wear braces, your dentist will help design a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your braces.
- Do not chew on or cut pieces off of your mouthguard.
- Bring your mouthguard to each dental checkup, and your dentist can check to make sure it’s still in good shape.