Sports guards, mouth guards and mouth protectors are different names for the same thing: a device worn over your teeth that protects them from blows to the face and head. Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment for anyone participating in a sport that involves falls, body contact or flying
equipment. This includes football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, gymnastics, mountain biking — any activity that might result in an injury to the mouth.Mouth guards typically cover the upper teeth, and are designed to protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to your mouth. If you
wear braces or other fixed dental appliances (such as a bridge) on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well. No matter which type of mouth guard you choose, it should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should also fit properly and not restrict your speech or breathing.
Why Use a Mouth Guard When Playing Sports?
Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the advantage of using a mouth guard is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouth guards also help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.
Can I Wear a Mouth Guard if I Wear Braces?
Yes. Since an injury to the face could damage orthodontic brackets or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. Your dentist or orthodontist can determine the mouth guard that will provide the best protection for your unique mouth work. An important reminder: do not wear any retainers or other removable appliance during any contact sports or during any recreational activities that put your mouth at risk for injury.
To care for your mouth guard:
- Rinse your mouth guard with cold water before and after each use and/or clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
- Occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
- Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
- Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures, such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight to minimize distorting its shape.
- Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
- Bring the mouth guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist exam it.