Capt. Michael Silva
General Dentist, Stone Dental Clinic
With the return of fall, many of our favorite sports and outdoor activities are beginning again. While common sense and a level of athleticism are required to enjoy these activities, there is a simple measure that everyone can take to protect their teeth and gums from injury: using a mouth guard.
Why mouth guards should be used
An athletic mouth guard is a removable appliance that protects the hard (teeth, bone, etc.) and soft tissues (gums, tongue, etc.) of the face and mouth during activities that represent high risk of injury to the mouth.
Mouth guards work by absorbing energy during an impact; hence reducing the probability of trauma to the teeth, lips, tongue and face. Any person who participates in activities that might involve an injury to the mouth and/or face will benefit from using a mouth guard.
In addition, mouth guards shield the teeth to help prevent chipping, fracturing or losing a tooth or several teeth. Moreover, mouth guards prevent concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents of unconsciousness, and jaw fractures that can have more detrimental and permanent consequences to the individual.
How to choose a mouth guard
There are three types of mouth guards available to Soldiers on post and civilians as a whole.
The stock mouth guard is typically the most inexpensive mouth guard available in most sporting goods stores, and it offers the least amount of protection. You are unable to adjust stock mouth guards to conform to the teeth; therefore, they are likely to either slip off the mouth if they are too big or pinch the gums, causing discomfort.
"Boil and Bite" mouth guards are available in sporting goods stores, and they are considered relatively inexpensive. The difference between a stock mouth guard and a boil and bite mouth guard is substantial. Hot water is all you need to adjust the plastic comfortably around the teeth. Keep in mind that forming a mouth guard correctly around the teeth and gums is not always as easy as it may seem.
Custom-fit mouth guards are obtained through your dental office, available in as little as one week. The first appointment involves taking an impression of the teeth; individuals return at a later appointment for fittings. Custom mouth guards also allow for slight adjustments as requested by the players to satisfy their preference.
How to care for your mouth guard
wBefore each use, clean it with soap and water.
wAfter use, clean it with soft toothbrush and mouth wash, and then rinse it.
wKeep it in case if not using it.
wHave a new one made if it is broken or if not fitting properly.