Tag Archives: teeth

Maintain Your Mouth Guards!

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Maintain Your Mouth Guard

I’ve always been perplexed by players who don’t wear mouth guards, and even more perplexed by the adults who don’t stay on their young players to properly wear and maintain their mouth guards. Maybe I’m perplexed because of the mouth guard discipline instilled in me when I was learning kickboxing as a teenager. Rule of the gym was – no mouthguard, no spar, and I wanted to spar so I learned to bring a mouth guard to practice and wear it the right way because it doesn’t matter how good the mouth guard is – it won’t do a darn thing if it isn’t worn correctly.

According to the American Dental Association’s May 27th, 2010 article American Dental Association Says Mouthguard Important Piece of Athletic Gear: “The most effective mouthguard should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable and easy to clean, and not restrict your speech or breathing.” A regular boil-and-bite mouth guard bought from your neighborhood sports supply store will work  to reduce facial and dental injuries, but I would encourage players at all levels to go for a fitted mouth guard. I wore an OPRO Mouth Guard during my high school playing days and I never had a more comfortable mouth guard that I could also speak through.

properly-wornProperly Worn Mouth Guard

The image on the left is a young chid wearing a mouthguard correctly. How do you know that you are wearing the mouthguard correctly? – It fits in your mouth. This should be the easiest piece of equipment to wear correctly besides cleats, but many players wear their mouth guards like the hockey player below.



Improperly Worn Mouth Guard

This is commonly known as the fish hook, and wearing your mouth guard like this is about as effective as an actual fish hook in protecting your teeth. The device designed to protect your teeth will not work as designed if you do not wear it properly!



Maintaining your mouth guard is just as important as wearing it the correct way. The follow pictures are from actual AYL players from various age levels showcasing good mouth guards and not so good mouthguards.

bad-mouthguard_2Bad Mouth Guard #1

This mouth guard has been chewed repeatedly on one side. While this is not the worst mouth guard I’ve seen it is not going to do a great job if the player is hit during a game because the grooves that the teeth are supposed to fit into are no longer there.


bad-mouthguard_3Bad Mouth Guard #2

This mouth guard is a worse version of the one above. I can’t imagine this is even comfortable to wear, which will likely lead to the player fish hooking the mouth guard. While I’ve never found molded plastic to be a particularly tasty substance to chew on I have ground my teeth on mouth guards that I’ve worn if I was stressed out during a game. This mouth guard is not going to protect the player when the player needs it.

bad-mouthguard_1Bad Mouth Guard #3

This is one of the worst mouth guards that my mother photographed. Each side has been bitten repeatedly and there is no way this fits into the player’s mouth as designed. Do not wait to replace your mouth guard when it gets to this point.


good-mouthguard_2 Good Mouth Guard #1

This mouth guard is in excellent condition. Notice that all of the impressed bite marks from the player’s original fitting are still intact, which means the mouth guard will fit comfortably and give the greatest degree of protection that it is designed to provide.


good-mouthguard_1 Good Mouth Guard #2

This mouthguard is even better than the one above, and the player has a back up mouth guard! Both mouth guards have been molded to his teeth, and they are kept in a container so they don’t get squished by other gear or stepped on while the player is suiting up. This player is probably going to save his mom and dad a lot of money in dental bills if he wears these nice mouth guards properly.


The April 1st, 2013 ADA Press Release Play it Safe: Prevent Facial Injuries With Simple Sports Safety Precautions noted a disturbing result of a AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) survey: “67% of parents admitted that their children do not wear a mouth guard during organized sports. This raises a question: if mouth guards offer a simple and relatively inexpensive solution to help dramatically decrease the risk of oral injuries, why aren’t more kids wearing them?”

I have an answer to that question: it is because mouth guards are not expensive.

I’ve seen returning players come into a spring season with brand-spanking new lacrosse gear. Brand new gloves, shiny helmets, top of the line arm pads, and cleats designed to “accelerate” them on the field. But they still have the same mouthguard they used when they started three years ago. Mouth guards should be the least expensive piece of required equipment that parents need to purchase for their young players. Sadly, many parents will shell out a couple hundred dollars each year on new equipment, but leave the mouth guard off the new gear list because, hey, it’s just a mouth guard. Well, if you or your player think that then here are two fun images for you all to think about:
Busted Teeth


Get a good mouth guard. Maintain it. Wear it correctly
… and you’ll lower your chances at having to shell out a few thousand in corrective dental work

Featured Image Credit – http://www.dentalgentlecare.com/dental_tip_april.htm (Apparently this post is well timed as April is National Facial Protection Month!)


Mouthguard. Get a Good One

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I never understood how players do not get that the mouthguard is one of the most importance pieces of equipment they wear. I constantly see players forgetting to put their mouthguard in. They leave it dangling off their facemask, which is about as useful as not wearing your seatbelt.

I think the biggest problem is that players and parents just do not see the mouthguard as terribly important. So a player gets a four dollar mouthguard from a sports outlet store, never gets it properly fitted and does not like to wear it because it is uncomfortable. I do not want players to find excuses for not wearing a mouthguard so I’ve put together some information that I hope will open some eyes to the benefits of getting a well fitted mouthguard.

The following information is provided by the Florida Dental Association:

  • In 1962, 50 percent of injuries among students participating in football programs in Florida were oral facial. At that time, mouthguard and facemask use became mandatory. It is estimated that this enforced protection prevents more than 200,000 injuries among football players each year.
  • Athletes participating in sports not requiring this protection are 60 times more likely to suffer hard-tissue trauma to the oral-facial area. Other common injuries, including concussion, dental trauma and TMJ, also could be significantly reduced by properly fitting mouthguards.
  • One third of male and one fourth of female students will suffer a dental injury before finishing high school. An Illinois hospital stated only one in every 10 such injuries resulted from collision sports (football, hockey, boxing) where the risk of injury is obvious and protective gear is required.

It is clear that mouthguards provide critical protection for the teeth and jaw but how do they protect against concussions or lesson the impact of hard hits? Sportsdentistry.com provides some insight into this question:

Face and Skull

Face and Skull impact

  • Dr. Karen Johnston, a prominent Canadian concussion researcher, noted that: “The force required to concuss a fixed head is almost twice that required to concuss a mobile head”.
  • By activating additional head and neck muscles at the time of impact this arc of rotation might be decreased, leading to less harmful movement of the brain inside the skull.

Research suggests that the mouthguard clenches the jaw towards the skull creating a more solid structure. You can try this yourself. Open your mouth wide and tap up on your jaw with your fist. Even a light tap will snap your jaw up and your head will move backwards. Now clench your teeth together as if you had a mouthpiece in and repeat the tap. Your head still moves backwards but there is considerably less movement. This is the “knockout punch” effect and why boxers aim for the jaw. A loose jaw will rock back into the bottom of the skull and can easily render a person unconscious.

Here is the catch. With all of the benefits of mouthguards they will not be effective if they are not quality made and not properly fitted. Players will stick half the mouthpiece out of their mouth during an entire game because it is uncomfortable and they cannot speak properly with it in. The reason it is uncomfortable is because it is not properly fitted. I played with a fitted mouthguard through junior and senior year. It was so well fitted to my teeth that I could speak easily and it never fell out. That is the kind of mouthpiece a player should be wearing to get all of the benefits that a good mouthpiece provides.

I found OPRO mouthguards my junior year and I highly recommend them for any JV or High School player who wants a quality mouthguard that will last for the entire season. If a fitted mouthguard is out of your price range then head to a sports store and get a mouthguard that you can fit yourself by heating it in hot water. You want it to stick to your teeth and it should feel comfortable.

I’m wrapping up this post with a special note to parents. Would you rather spend $20-$50 dollars on a quality, fitted mouthguard or would you like to spend $1,000 dollars on dental bills after Junior chips his four front teeth during a semifinal game?