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Whether you’re playing hockey, lacrosse, or any other classic Canadian sport where impact is a concern, you wear protective equipment. You’ll certainly have a helmet, you may have shin guards or knee pads – but do you have a mouthguard? Whether you’re looking to protect yourself or your child, mouthguards are an essential and undervalued piece of protective equipment. 

Dental Injuries and Oral Injuries in Contact Sports

Participation in sports is the cause of anywhere between 13% and 39% of dental trauma  (WARNING: The link contains some graphic images of facial trauma and disease). Dental trauma is painful, can be expensive to treat, and can sometimes lead to permanent damage.

Any efforts made to reduce dental trauma are worthwhile. Contact sports don’t only pose a risk to your teeth, however. As a result of impact, players may bite down on and lacerate their gums, cheeks, and/or tongue. These injuries can cause bleeding, and can range from mild to quite severe, requiring stitches and other interventions.

Mouthguards Prevent Contact Sport Injuries

The American Dental Association (ADA) put together a fairly comprehensive compilation of the available information about athletic mouthguards. If you want more information than the overview we offer you here, we highly recommend reading the information they provide. Here are a few highlights:

  • Around 27.6% of collision sports players experience dentofacial injuries. 
  • A 2007 meta-analysis found the risk of orofacial injury was 1.6 to 1.9 times higher in players who did not use a mouthguard of any type.
  • A 2019 meta-analysis found that the risk of dentofacial injury was 82% to 93% lower in players who used mouthguards. 

In other words, facial injuries, be they to the cheeks, gums, tongue, or teeth, are incredibly common in contact sports. Mouthguards are shown to seriously reduce the likelihood of experiencing these injuries.

Mouthguards Don’t Prevent Concussions

There’s something of an urban myth that mouthguards prevent concussions. Recent studies and meta-analyses have not found evidence that this is true. Mouthguards are designed to stop oral injury, while helmets and other protective equipment are designed to reduce the risk of concussion. We encourage you to use as much protective equipment as possible to reduce the chance of injury – and to use that equipment for what it was designed for.

The Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards: custom-made, boil-and-bite, and stock. 

Custom-made mouthguards offer the most comfortable fit, as they’re fitted to your mouth by your dentist. There’s evidence that custom mouthguards also offer more protection than other types of mouthguards, but limited studies have been conducted in this area. Custom mouthguards are the most expensive. 

Boil-and-bite mouthguards are the middle-of-the-road option. You boil them and then bite them so the mouthguard fits around your teeth. They offer a better fit than stock mouthguards, but a worse fit than custom mouthguards.

Stock mouthguards are the least expensive option, but they aren’t custom-fitted at all. They may be uncomfortable.

Which type of mouthguard should you get? Many people prefer custom mouthguards because they’re much more comfortable. The real answer, however, is that any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard. The most important thing is protecting your mouth.

If you sustain a sports injury, you may be asking “Where can I find an emergency dental clinic near me?” Get in touch with us right away. We offer 24/7 dental care in Edmonton – we’ll treat your injury whether it’s 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning.