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How to Protect an Athlete's Winning Smile With Dental Safety

by Richard Caven

posted in Health and Fitness

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Dental Injuries: One of the Most Common Sports Injuries
Thirty-nine percent of sports injuries affect teeth, the Journal of the American Dental Association reported recently. These mostly avoidable injuries cost American athletes approximately $500 million every year.
Contact sports are the main culprits. Athletes who play sports such as soccer and baseball that require less protective gear are particularly at risk for oral injury, says the Academy of General Dentistry.
There are, however, some ways that even athletes who play contact sports can reduce their risk of dental injuries. Here are some ways for athletes to protect their teeth when they play contact sports and other high-risk activities:
Wearing Protective Headgear
Although there are sports, such as soccer, in which protective headgear are not required, it would be a good idea for players who want to protect their teeth to wear helmets or other protective devices. Not only will helmets offer better protection to an athlete's mouth, but they will also help guard against serious head injuries.
Using Mouth Guards
Although the Academy of General Dentistry cites statistics that show that wearing mouth guards could prevent about 200,000 dental injuries each year, very few sports associations require them, even for juvenile athletes. In fact, only seven percent of baseball, soccer, and softball players wear even the most basic mouth guards to protect their teeth. Other sports, though, such as hockey and football, have enacted rules that require youthful players to wear mouth guards, as well as helmets that protect athletes' faces.
Not all mouth guards are created equal. Here is a rundown of the options from which athletes can choose:
Stock Mouth Guards: These low-cost guards are a one-size-fits all option. Because they do not conform to the wearer's mouth, they provide only a small amount of protection. If that is all an athlete can afford, though, wearing stock mouth guards are better than none at all.
Mouth-Formed Mouth Guards: Because they are softened by boiling and then fitted into an athlete's mouth, these rubber or acrylic guards provide better protection than stock options.
Custom Mouth Guards: These are designed using a mold to provide an exact fit for each athlete's mouth. Although they are the most expensive choice, they are the best choice to protect athletes from costly injuries.
Mouth Guard Care
Whether an athlete chooses stock, mouth-formed, or custom guards, it is important to care for these protective devices. They need to be washed with both a mouth rinse and cold water after each use. Occasionally, athletes should clean their guards with soap and water. To allow the devices to air out after cleaning, they should be stored in a container that has small holes so air can circulate and keep the guards dry.
Despite the best protection, oral injuries can still happen. If an athlete in your care loses a tooth, try to find the tooth. If possible, insert the tooth back into the socket. If not, store the tooth in water or milk and head off to the dentist's office immediately.
To find out more about protecting their teeth from injury, athletes should make an appointment with their dentist to discover more ways to care for their teeth, even if they play hard-hitting contact sports.
About the Author: Cosmetic dentist Dr. Caven and his experienced team help you find your best smile. Offering advanced technology in Jacksonville, Florida for a variety of cosmetic dental services, Dr. Caven offers a versatile range of solutions for healthy smiles.
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