Adolescents in America are participating in sports at unprecedented levels today. That’s a wonderful thing. It is estimated that 20-25 million kids are now active in athletics. Unfortunately, millions of teeth are being damaged each year during these sporting events. Not only are dentists seeing teeth broken and lost during contact sports, we are also seeing many dental injuries involving non contact sports such as gymnastics and skating.
It is estimated that 10-20% of all dental injuries are dental/facial. Athletes are 60 times more likely to sustain injuries when not wearing a mouth guard. Teeth can be fractured, knocked out, or simply moved within the socket causing permanent damage when guards are not worn. The damage can be expensive to repair. A lifetime cost of $10,000 – $15,000 for a single lost tooth is a common estimate. A tooth lost at a young age will need follow up work many times during the injury victim’s life.
Dental injuries while playing sports can be prevented! The American Dental Association estimates 200,000 high school and collegiate football injuries are prevented each year by the use of mouth guards. Football players have the highest percentage of participates wearing mouth guards. Hopefully other sports will increase the use of mouth guard protection as well. If that were to happen we should see a dramatic decrease in sports related dental injuries.
There are three types of mouth guards:
1. Stock Guards: These guards are the least expensive and basically a one size fits all sort of guard. This guard must be held in place by biting down on it. So there is a high probability this guard will be dislodged just as sporting contact is made. Avoid this type of guard.
2. Boil and Bite Guards: This is the most common type of guard worn. Of the athletes that wear guards about 90 % wear this type. These guards are readily available and relatively inexpensive. These guards are only slightly better than stock guards. Because the guard is formed by boiling and biting to form the guard, the thickness of the material is extremely variable and often too thin in spots to provide proper protection. Also this type guard does not typically fit securely enough to stay firmly in place as a blow is delivered during contact sports.
3. Custom Fitted Guards: This is the guard that provides the most protection. After we make impressions at the dental office. The guard is custom made at a dental lab so it has uniform thickness and a secure and proper fit. Athletes report this guard is the most comfortable and lasts the longest. For fun, team logos and colors can be designed into the guards if desired. Most importantly these guards provide the utmost in protection.
Once a tooth is damaged, it is damaged for life. Make sure your child’s teeth are properly protected during sports. Only custom made guards provide the protection athletes need.
If you have questions about any of the information presented please feel free to ask any of our team members. All of our team members at Carolina Mountain Dental here to serve as a resource for your dental needs.
Thanks for reading.
Jeff Efird DDS
About Dr. Efird
Dr. Jeff Efird has practiced dentistry for over 20 years. His love and respect for the dental profession continues to grow as he sees patients positively affected by proper oral health and quality treatment under his care. Dr. Efird understands a relationship with a dentist is a lifelong endeavor and values the respect and trust his patients extend.
Dr. Efird began his training as an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill. He attained a degree in chemistry before continuing his education and graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in 1987.
Dedicated to expanding his own knowledge and that of his practice, Dr. Efird has completed over 1000 hours of continuing education since graduating from dental school. Over the last decade he has focused most of his education of advanced restorative techniques and implant restorative solutions. Much of the training has been associated with the renowned Spear Education center in Scottsdale.
A member of the American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, North Carolina Dental Society, and Buncombe County Dental Society, Dr. Efird is committed to providing outstanding quality care to patients in Western North Carolina. He lives in Asheville with his wife and son, and loves to fish and build handcrafted boats.