Custom-Fitted Athletic Mouthguards Save Lives and Money!

Posted by: Jason Hui, DDS, on June 5, 2013

The Journal of the American Dental Association has published that up to 39% of all dental injuries are sports-related, with dental injuries being the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during sports participation.  Furthermore, the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reported that an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective athletic mouthguard.  The various types of orofacial injuries that can occur during a sports mishap include, but are not limited to, tooth avulsion, tooth fracture, pulpal injury, mandibular injury, and concussion.  Consequently, the use of a properly fitting athletic mouthguard is of paramount importance in preventing serious injuries with lifetime consequences.

Tooth avulsion involves the dislodging of the entire tooth out of the socket as a consequence of trauma.  A custom-fitted athletic mouthguard serves to hold all the teeth in the mouth in place and acts as a cushion for the teeth to absorb forces of impact.  In the unfortunate event of tooth avulsion, meticulous care for the avulsed tooth is critical in order to save it.  The tooth must be handled only by the crown portion (the part that is displayed in the mouth), leaving the root portion untouched, rinsed with milk, and then soaked in a glass of milk.  If milk is unavailable, then it is recommended that the tooth be rinsed with water and then placed in the mouth between the cheek and gum to preserve moisture.  Sometimes, children are unable to safely store the tooth in their mouths; in that case, have them spit into a cup and then soak the tooth in their saliva.  It is also possible to place the tooth back into the socket (replantation of the tooth), ensuring the correct orientation and level, if one is comfortable doing so.  Whether the avulsed tooth is salvageable or not depends on the duration in which the tooth has been out of the socket and its sterility, so the sooner the tooth is able to be replanted, the more likely it is that the tooth can be saved.  Regardless of whether self-replantation is successful, a dentist should be seen immediately following the traumatic incident.

While sports injuries do not always lead to the severe cases of tooth avulsion, they can nevertheless cause tooth fracture or pulpal (nerve) injury.  A simple chip may occur on the tooth without injury to the nerve, and the extensiveness of the chip will govern whether the tooth requires a crown or a filling for restoration.  In the event that there is injury to the nerve, then root canal therapy will be required, followed by crown placement.  In the most severe fracture cases, the tooth may be non-restorable and require extraction.

Lastly, trauma to the lower jaw can lead to a concussion—the most serious and life-threatening consequence of orofacial sports trauma.  If traumatic impact is delivered to the chin in an upward manner, a concussion can occur as a result of secondary trauma to the base of the skull by the condyles of the lower jaw (Figures 1 & 2).  The use of a custom athletic mouthguard will not only protect all teeth by coverage and shock absorption, but the adequate thickness of the mouthguard will also help to separate the lower jaw from the upper to decrease the chances of a concussion.

anatomy of TMJ reflects need for athletic mouthguard

Figure 1.  This schematic illustrates the human skull. The arrow points to the condyle, which is part of the lower jaw. If a blow to the lower jaw in an upward direction occurs, then the condyle will be displaced upward toward the brain and can cause a concussion.

concussion from sports injury and no athletic mouthguard

Figure 2. This image illustrates the proximity of the condyle to the brain.  Displacement of the condyle upward by way of a blow to the chin could lead to a concussion.

As detailed above, there can be costly and life-threatening consequences from sports trauma to the face.  Paragon Dentistry invites everyone who is active in sports, especially kids, to come in for a consultation for a custom-fitted athletic mouthguard.  Only a custom-fitted athletic mouthguard can provide maximum comfort, adequate thickness, and thorough protection for all teeth.  In fact, this month, we are offering a promotion for a FREE custom-fitted athletic mouthguard with an exam, xrays, and cleaning, so please take advantage of this offer, contact us, and take preventive measures against the possible costly and life-threatening aftermath of sports trauma!

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