You do, if you engage in any type of sports activity where you are likely to collide with other sports participants or come in contact with hard surfaces. Read on, if you don’t agree with that statement.
You don’t have to be a high school, college or professional athlete to need a mouth guard. If you’re a weekend warrior – inclined to participate in a pick-up game of basketball, football or any other sport – do what the pros do. Add this “3-second warm-up exercise” to your checklist: Open mouth, insert mouth guard.
The Economics of Mouth Guards
If you (or a family member) have not experienced a sports-related (or other type) of dental injury), count yourself fortunate. You may not have had occasion to do the math, so do it now, before it’s too late. Most dental insurance policies do not cover mouth guards. But it still makes good dollars and sense. Mouth guards won’t prevent every dental injury, but you only need to read a few legal waivers addressing an athlete’s refusal to wear a mouth guard to better appreciate the risk and economics. One statistical website puts the number of teeth lost annually to sports injuries at 5 million. That’s a lot of teeth, and they’re not cheap to replace! And that number does not include the number of teeth that get painfully “rearranged” or cracked, requiring substantial and costly repair.
If you’re a parent of a student athlete (official team or casual), you’ll do your best to protect your existing investment if your child has worn or is currently wearing braces. Who wants to start all over on that smile-enhancing investment? While the braces themselves might provide some degree of stability for the teeth, injuries to the tongue and mouth tissue are likely to be more serious. (Of course, mouth guards also limit injury to oral tissues for those who aren’t wearing braces.) If the team’s coach doesn’t play an enforcing role in the use of mouth guards, you will need to be especially vigilant.
Why Do People Refuse to Wear Mouth Guards?
Usually, they’re in one of these camps:
1. They never really considered the risks of not wearing one
2. They have consciously elected to be daredevils
3. It’s not cool to wear one
4. It’s uncomfortable or annoying
We’ve already touched on what ought to matter to the first two categories. So, let’s look at the last two.
• It’s not cool!
You may be a little behind the times if you believe this. You may recall that it also took a long time for bike helmets to become cool, too. Maybe you need to get ahead of the curve on this one. There are even mouth guards on the market today that claim to be performance-enhancing for athletes. Stay tuned for that to be scientifically validated, although many professional athletes strongly believe it to be the case. Perhaps you can become a trend-setter by religiously wearing a mouth guard.
• It’s uncomfortable or annoying!
It really doesn’t have to be that way. A properly fitted custom mouth guard will not slip when you move, will not keep you from talking, will not keep you from breathing easily, is easy to clean, doesn’t have a bad taste, and is generally resistant to tears. (The tears can contribute to discomfort.) A $15 investment at the sporting goods store is unlikely to provide these same qualities. We can provide a custom fitted mouth guard that can easily offset the cost of trying to save or replace a single tooth.
At Raleigh Comprehensive and Cosmetic Dentistry, we’ll be glad to discuss the practicalities of using a mouth guard with you or your student athlete. We understand that an experience with an over-the-counter mouth guard can create a general aversion to using them. Our mouth guards are produced using a different process than over-the-counter mouth guards, including the ones that are supposed to mold to fit your teeth. A good fit produced with high-quality materials can make all the difference in the world. We also provide custom-fit night guards to help patients who grind their teeth avoid undue wear and tear on their teeth.