Athletes who participate in contact sports like American football, rugby, and boxing know how important it is to wear a mouthguard. Their sports are highly physical, and the risks for dental injuries are high. Yet those who take part in non-contact sports may be more reluctant. Since their sports aren’t as rough by nature, do they even need to wear mouthguards?
This blog is here to answer that question and provide guidance on steps athletes can take to choose a mouthguard that’s the best fit for them.
Why All Athletes Need to Use a Mouthguard During Play and Practice
1. The Risk of Dental Injury Is Present in Every Sport
Dental injuries can happen to anyone. Studies have shown that the chances athletes, whether they participate in contact or non-contact sports, will sustain some type of dental trauma over the course of their career ranges from 33% to 56%. Using a mouthguard can reduce that risk by up to 90%.
2. It’s Not Just a Broken Tooth
The other assumption people have is that even if they do get knocked in the mouth, it’s only a chipped tooth. The reality is that not only will this cause serious discomfort, it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix, especially if the damage extends to your jaw bone or gums.
Case Study: Basketball
Basketball has flown under the radar for quite some time, but in recent years research has emerged suggesting that it’s time for that to change. In a study comparing rates of dental injuries in a variety of college sports, basketball was the one that had the highest injury rate—five times greater than even American football. Contributing factors include speed of play, small court size, and close proximity with opponents and teammates.
Over the last decade, mouthguards have become more prominent thanks to their use by big-name players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Tim Hardaway Jr., and others. Still, many choose not to wear mouthguards for one of two reasons:
- Despite the evidence, there’s an assumption that they won’t suffer a dental injury and, even if they do, it’s just a broken tooth.
- There are practical concerns about on-the-court communication, something that influenced Amar’e Stoudemire’s decision to stop wearing mouthguards.
The reality is that—regardless of the sport you play, how often you play it, or the level you are at—all sports come with some risk of dental injury. The best way to keep yourself protected is with a mouthguard.
How Do I Choose the Right Mouthguard?
- Pick Your Style: Mouth-adapted mouthguards are the most popular type, giving wearers the ability to achieve a customized fit at an affordable price. Other options include ready-made and custom-fit mouthguards.
- Pay Attention to Comfort and Protection: The right mouthguard should never force you to choose one or the other. You should always have both. When making your decision, ask yourself if you are able to breathe and speak while wearing it, if it fits securely (you shouldn’t be able to loosen it easily with your tongue, and you shouldn’t have to clamp your teeth to keep it in place), and if it provides the correct amount of coverage (ends somewhere between your first and second molar, and doesn’t come into too much contact with your soft palate).
- Ensure It’s Compliant with All Regulations: Mouthguards sold within Europe, for example, must be CE certified.
- Look for the Features You Need: If you wear headgear like a helmet you may want to look for strapped or convertible mouthguards, and if you have braces you will definitely want to use a braces-compatible product.
To read more about choosing the right mouthguard, check out our comprehensive guide.
Ultimately the key to keeping your mouth protected while playing sports is to ensure you’re wearing a high-quality, properly fitted mouthguard.
At Makura Sport, our mission is simple: to provide you with mouthguards that exceed expectations and make us the protection of choice for athletes around the world. Contact us today to learn more!
Read more about safety in sport from Makura:
- 4 Signs That Your Mouthguard Is a Good Fit
- 3 Reasons Students Might Need a New Mouthguard This Year
- How to Keep Your Mouthguard Clean
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