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Dentistry in Leesburg, VA

General & Family Dentistry

Mouthguards

40% of Sports Injuries Involve the Face: All About Mouthguards

Did you know that up to 40 percent of all sports injuries involve the face? Helmets, knee pads, shin guards... if you're an avid athlete or the parent of one, you know the importance of proper protective gear. Protect your smile and your mouth with a comfortable, custom-molded mouthguard to dramatically reduce the risk of sports-related oral injury.

Before facemasks and mouthguards were required in football, half of all players' injuries occurred in the mouth. During the playing season, players had a one in ten chance of mouth injury. Once high schools and colleges began requiring facemasks and mouthguards, the number of injuries reported dropped by 200,000 per year. Naturally, dentists and the ADA recommend mouthguards for adults and children in any recreational activity that poses the risk of injury to your mouth.

What is a Mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a comfortable piece of athletic gear that fits over your teeth and can help protect your smile as well as your lips, tongue, face, and jaw. New research indicates that mouthguards can even reduce the severity of concussions.

While hockey, boxing, and rugby players would obviously benefit from mouthguards, others, like bicyclists, weightlifters, and gymnasts, made the ADA's list of athletes who need oral protection. This may sound excessive, but studies show that 13 to 39 percent of all dental injuries are sports related. Protect your face, and your head: a mouthguard could mean the difference between thousands of dollars in reconstructive surgery, poor self image, even death- and a healthy, safe, athlete.

Types of Mouthguards

Ready-Made Mouthguards
You may have seen ready-made mouthguards in a department or sporting goods store. These generic mouthguards are inexpensive and readily available. Unfortunately, because they are not custom-fitted, they may seem bulky and uncomfortable in your mouth. Ready-made mouthguards are secured by closed jaws which means, when an athlete wears a ready-made mouthguard, it often is loose and unstable, making speaking and breathing difficult.

Mouth-Formed Mouthguards
If you're looking for something that has more of a custom feel, you might consider mouth-formed mouthguards. Acrylic, shell liner mouthguards provide a comfortable and secure fit over your natural teeth. Unfortunately, many users report that this mouthguard can have an unpleasant odor or taste. They can also harden over time and lose their flexibility. Another type of mouth-formed mouthguard, the thermoplastic style, can be customized by heating in water, then biting. It will take on the shape of your bite. While these maintain their flexibility, they can feel bulky as well.

Custom-Made Mouthguards
The best solution, custom-made mouthguards are comfortable, practical, and protective. A dentist or lab technician creates the custom-made mouthguard after taking impressions of your teeth. This mouthguard is exceptionally well-fitted to your mouth, and since it is created by medical professionals, it can also take into account variables that others do not, such as special dental work or material.

Before you purchase any mouthguard, talk to your dentist. Special mouthguards or mouth protectors are recommended for patients with braces, removable bridges or dentures, a protruding jaw, or a cleft palate.

Mouthguard Care
Always wear your mouthguard during practice and games. Never chew on it because you may weaken the material and decrease its effectiveness. Holes, tears, and damage to the mouthguard may irritate your gums or soft tissue. If you notice damage, replace your mouthguard immediately.

Before and after each use, check your mouthguard for damage and rinse it with cold water or mouthwash. You should regularly clean your guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste or in a solution of soapy water. Be sure to rinse it well and store it in a firm, perforated container. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight and high temperatures.

Most importantly, you should schedule regular dental check-ups, including one right before the playing season starts. When you see your dentist, bring your mouthguard and discuss any problems or concerns you may have.

ADA & ASD Advice
The American Dental Association and the Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend mouthguards for athletes who participate in:


Acrobatics Field Hockey Racquetball Squash
Bandi Football Rugby Surfing
Baseball Gymnastics Shot Put Volleyball
Basketball Handball Skateboarding Water Polo
Bicycling Ice Hockey Skiing Weightlifting
Boxing Inline Skating Skydiving Wrestling
Equestrian Lacrosse Soccer  
Field Events Martial Arts Softball  

If you have questions about mouthguards, call our Leesburg, VA dental office. We'll be happy to help you decide which type of mouthguard is best for you, and guide you through each step of the process until you have your very own safe, custom, athletic mouthguard.

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