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dental office in Ashland

The Importance of Athletic Mouth Guards


The Importance of Athletic Mouth Guards

The benefits of sports and athletic activities are numerous – they improve strength, coordination and reduce stress. Many of these activities also carry with them a bit of physical risk – including potential damage to your mouth. When we think of protective gear, items like helmets and shin-guards come to mind, but athletic mouth guards are just as important when it comes to negating physical risk.

The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) reported that as many as 39% of all dental injuries are sports-related, resulting in nearly $500 million spent on replacing teeth due to injury each year. We encourage you to evaluate your sports activities and related risks and consider having a mouth guard made.

The American Dental Association recommends mouth guards for the following sports:

Peter helping create custom mouth guards for our SOU Women's Wrestling team members!

Peter helping create custom mouth guards for our SOU Women's Wrestling team members!

  • Acrobatics
  • Football
  • Martial Arts
  • Skiing
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics
  • Racquetball
  • Skydiving
  • Water Polo
  • Boxing
  • Handball
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Weight Lifting
  • Discus Throwing
  • Ice Hockey
  • Shot Putting
  • Squash
  • Wrestling
  • Field Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Skateboarding
  • Surfing

This list is not exhaustive – in fact, we feel that Mountain Biking is an obvious one to add to the list. The point is that many of the sporting activities we all enjoy should be included. Studies show that athletes are at a much higher risk of sustaining orofacial injuries when not wearing a mouth guard. These type of injuries are not just cosmetic. Injuries to the teeth and soft tissue can be very serious, whether it’s nerve damage or eventual periodontal disease.

It just makes sense to protect your teeth. But not all mouth guards are created equal. There are three main types:

1. Stock

These mouth guards are non-custom. They can be purchased at a store for immediate use. For most patients, they feel bulky and uncomfortable, which can affect the willingness of a patient to wear the guard.

2. Boil and Bite

Just as the name implies, these guards can be purchased at a store, then boiled in hot water (to make it more malleable) and then fit into the mouth and bitten down on to form. These guards are usually more comfortable than a stock guard, but they can be hard to get just right. 

3. Custom

Custom mouth guards are creating by a dentist to fit the unique shape of your teeth, which makes them most comfortable and most effective. Even if a patient is in braces, these guards can be formed to fit comfortably around orthodontia. The process is quick, easy and inexpensive.

If you are a patient or a parent of a child involved in any activity with the potential for injury, let us know. We’re happy to create a custom mouth guard to keep those pearly whites protected! Contact us to book an appointment for your fitting. 



Toothbrush Selection

There are so many toothbrushes on the market – how do you choose? Angled heads, electric brushes, ergonomic handles, biodegradable, etc. All these choices can make it tough to decide which brush is right for you. In this article, we’ll decode some of these options and help steer you in the right direction.  

What’s the Difference Between Hard and Soft?

When we talk about “hard” or “soft” toothbrushes, we are referring to the stiffness of bristles on a toothbrush. In theory, stiffer bristles are designed to better remove plaque, food bits and staining. However, our recommendation is to always go for a softer brush. This simple fact is that most people actually brush too hard! Brushing too vigorously is compounded when using a hard-bristled brush and can cause damage to sensitive gum tissue - especially near the gum line.

So next time you come across a hard toothbrush, save it for cleaning the kitchen grout instead!

Natural or Synthetic Bristles?

Most toothbrushes are made from a synthetic material. However, recent advances have been made to promote the production and usage of natural material toothbrushes – for both bristles and handles. Popular materials for these types of brushes are plant or wood fiber. In our opinion, either is fine for your pearly whites, but we love the idea of toothbrushes which are better for the environment! Try a natural toothbrush out when you have the opportunity.

Heads and Handles

There are almost infinite possibilities in brush and head styles. Rather than take too much time describing them all, we’ll get down to business. Here’s what you need to know: It doesn’t matter much. Instead of getting weighed down by the choices, just choose one that’s comfortable to use and inspires excellent hygiene (cheetah print anyone?).

Electric or Manual?

This is where we’ll make our strongest recommendation. We are huge fans of electric toothbrushes! They are powerful and easy to apply the right pressure with. Another great benefit is that many models come with a timer, encouraging people to brush for a full two minutes more often than they normally would. A study by the American Dental Association found that most people brush for only a minute and half.

In addition, the sonic waves emitted by the vibrating brush are proven to be more effective at loosening food and plaque. We had a patient in Invisalign treatment compare brushing her aligners with a manual toothbrush after forgetting her electric brush on a two week vacation. After the experiment, she claimed she would never use a manual toothbrush again! She said the difference, when she could actually see what she was brushing (opposed to the teeth in your own mouth), was an obvious one.

Finding “The One”

Still wondering which toothbrush is best? Don’t worry about it too much. Consistency in your dental hygiene makes a bigger impact on your dental health than any style of toothbrush. Brush two times a day, floss daily and keep your regular hygiene appointments.

If you still have questions about choosing a toothbrush or any other dental care topics, feel free to drop us a line.