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Don’t rely on store-bought mouthguards!

It’s near the end of April, and here in Longmeadow, MA, just like all over the country, sports leagues are already in full swing! Sports are a great way to get exercise and stay social for kids of all ages (and that includes a lot of adults!).

While we here at Dores Dental love that we have so many active patients, it does mean that around this time of year we start to see more injured teeth. Broken and missing teeth are a common issue for those who play competitive contact sports (though some may even consider a missing tooth to be a kind of badge of honor!).

You don’t have to slow down your game to prevent dental injury.

With a custom mouthguard from Dores Dental, you can protect yourself and your family from pain and years of trouble! At this point, most people should know that mouthguards should be a key piece of any athlete’s safety equipment. A mouthguard is just as important as a helmet in football or baseball, or shin guards for soccer.

The problems start when people try and go the cheap way and pick up a mouthguard for their children or themselves at the store. The mentality appears to be that one mouthguard is as good as the next.

The fact is, store-bought mouthguards are not only less effective than custom mouthguards, they may even be dangerous.

Low Price = Low Quality!

The above equation isn’t true all of the time, but it certainly applies when it comes to mouthguards.

Many people will buy their mouthguards at the store, believing that the cheap piece of plastic they’ve bought is just as good at its job as anything else. Some even think that a custom mouthpiece is considered either a “prestige” piece of equipment,and a store-bought mouthpiece is good enough for a kid starting out in a sport (that he or she may quickly lose interest in).

Why spend the money?

Most store-bought mouthguards can be had for around or under $5, depending on where you buy them and the brand. It’s an easy decision for many, especially if they’re parents who have just dropped a ton of money on other sports equipment already!

However, they aren’t seeing the whole picture. That simple math changes once you consider the following numbers:

  • 5,000,000 teeth are avulsed (knocked out or broken) every year.
  • $500,000,000 is the total yearly bill for dental work that results from tooth avulsions in the US.
  • 40% of all dental injuries are sports-related.

Those numbers are staggering, and it could be much lower if mouthguards were required in all leagues for all sports, and that those mouthguards were fitted to each participant. That’s a nice thought, but it will probably never happen, so the best thing we can do it educate our patients and the public about the risks of store-bought mouthguards.

$5 or $500,000,000?

That should be an easy choice to make, but every year, at the start of every sports season, people fail to make the right choice, and decide that somehow saving on a mouthguard today is smarter than preventing costly dental work later.

Many of us have experienced a sports-related injury at one time or another, and no matter where they are on the body, those who have serious sports injuries will tell you how persistent these injuries are, and how their lives have changed dramatically as a result.

This is true especially for the teeth when they are injured. The emergency trip to the dentist is inconvenient and costly, and that’s obvious to most. What people don’t know is that the first trip to treat a dental injury is just the first in a long line of costly procedures that will continue throughout the injured person’s life.

Now how much would you pay?

Store-bought Mouthguards Just Aren’t Good Enough

In the store, there are two mouthguard types that you’re most likely to see: the “stock” mouthguard and the “boil-and-bite” mouthguard.

Neither sufficiently protect the teeth and mouth from injury. Let’s look at each to see why.

“Stock” Mouthguards

“Stock” mouthguards are exactly what their name implies: they are “stock”, which means they are mass-produced and are designed to be “one size fits all” (which like most things means they don’t actually fit anyone).

Stock mouthguards are usually made of cheap plastic, and they resemble a dental impression tray: a vaguely mouth-shaped tool that’s great for holding gooey impression material (to get an imprint of your teeth), but terrible for protecting you.

Because they’re so poorly designed, they are ill-fitting, and they tend to move around a great deal inside the mouth which is very uncomfortable. Because of this, stock mouthguards offer only a little more protection than wearing nothing, which is what usually happens. Stock mouthguards are so uncomfortable, people end up stop using them quickly. This encourages the habit of not wearing a mouthguard at all, increasing the chance for injury even more.

“Boil-and-bite” Mouthguards

This type of mouthguard is a little bit better than the “stock” type, but that doesn’t make them effective enough.

“Boil-and-bite” mouthguards have been around since the 60’s, and they haven’t changed much. If you aren’t familiar, here’s how they generally work:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Put the mouthguard in the boiling water.
  • After a short period, remove the mouthguard from the water.
  • Now softened by the hot water, the person who will wear the mouthguard places it in his or her mouth and bites down hard and holds it closed; the mouthguard molds itself around the teeth (like a dental impression).
  • Remove the mouthguard, run it under cold water so it can solidify, and try it on.
  • If it doesn’t fit properly, repeat until it does.

Many people believe that because boil-and-bite requires that an “impression” be made, the mouthguard will fit correctly, thereby offering enough protection. For a little while at least.

It isn’t long before the “impression” begins to rise, and the mouthguard’s fit becomes looser and looser. As this happens, the effectiveness of the boil-and-bite mouthguard begins to erode. That people have a tendency to chew boil-and-bite mouthguards only accelerates this process. Very soon, the mouthguard will be completely useless as a piece of safety gear, and it will need to be replaced.

That is, if the person wearing it doesn’t get in the habit of discarding them and going without.

Dores Dental is Here For You!

Your dentist can make a mouthguard specifically for you or your child. Not only will it be designed to fit your teeth exactly, it will hold its shape for a very long time. We only use superior materials. We can even create a mouthguard that’s specifically designed for the sport!

You play hard, so we work hard to keep your teeth safe and in good health.

Make an appointment with us to learn more about custom mouthguards, and what you can do to protect the dental health of your entire family.

Use our handy online appointment form or call us at 413-241-3995. Don’t forget to ask about our deals for new patients!

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