With sports-related concussions on the rise, especially in children and adolescents, a parent’s natural first instinct is to seek out the most technologically advanced head gear. And though newer helmets available with cutting edge foam inserts and titanium face cages can go a long way toward preventing mouth and tooth injuries, an important piece of equipment is often used improperly, or left out completely – the trusty mouth guard.
How They Work
Obviously high-impact sports like hockey and football carry the highest concussion risk to players, but in truth all athletes in any contact sport should wear a mouth guard. Granted, solid proof of the benefits of mouth guard use in sports is lacking, but it is believed that at a moment of impact, a player clenches their jaw muscles around the mouth guard which in turn stabilizes the skull and neck. Also, a properly fitted mouth guard creates a cushioning pocket of air between the jaw bone and the point at which the jaw connects to the skull, lessening the severity of injury from an upper-cut-like impact to the jaw.
Make it Count
For the most protection, all teeth must be entirely covered including the back molars. Many children complain of a gag reflex which leads parents to trim the posterior of the guard. This is not recommended by dentists and may actually cause a higher risk of a concussive injury. Instead, buy a “boil and bite” mouth guard and have a dentist adjust the bite and posterior thickness as it molds. Or better yet, have a dentist make a custom mouth guard. Both options keep the guard molded tightly to the back teeth and prevents excess material from protruding into the throat. Also have a dentist balance “boil and bite” or off-the-shelf products to the wearer’s bite before first wear. This will ensure all force of impact is distributed evenly across the entire jaw.
We Can Help
The team at Wellesley Dental Group provides off-the-shelf mouthguard balancing services along with custom options for sports enthusiasts of all ages. For more information or to make an appointment, contact us at 781-237-9071 or email@example.com.