A mouth guard is a soft plastic or laminated device used in sports to prevent oral injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. The American Dental Association estimates that a third of all dental injuries are sports related. The use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year.
The types of dental injuries that can occur when not using a mouth guard are chipped and broken teeth, crowns or dental bridges fractures, lip and cheek injuries, root damage to teeth, jaw fractures and bruises. Any athlete may be at risk for an oral injury and any injury can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard.
Mouth guards are mandatory in violent contact sports, such as football, hockey and boxing, where the risk of injury is likely. Children and adults involved in incidental contact sports, such as basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer and volleyball, may consider using a mouth guard to prevent mouth injuries.
A study with high school athletes found that seventy-five percent of injuries occurred when no mouth guards were used and forty percent occurred during baseball and basketball.
Nine percent of all athletes suffered some type of oral injury, while the other three percent reported a loss of consciousness. Fifty-six percent of all contusions happened when a mouth guard was not used.
There is a higher prevalence of traumas related to sports than previously reported. For more information about the correct mouth guard for you, check with your dental health professional.