“No blood, no foul,” is a popular saying on basketball courts in parks and gyms everywhere. However, as a dentist who has often treated patients in emergency dental situations, I can tell you that blood is best avoided. This is no reason to avoid contact sports altogether – they are, after all, great fun, great exercise, and an important part of many people’s lives. But you it is in your best interest to take the necessary precautions.
Common injuries incurred when playing contact sports such as soccer, MMA, hockey, roller derby, and others include:
- tooth (crown) fractures
- tooth intrusions, extrusions, and avulsions
- temporomandibular joint dislocations.
Fortunately, the mouth guard (sometimes called a mouthpiece) is a fairly effective measure that is also simple and affordable. Mouth guards are good because they:
- protect gums and lips from lacerations
- decrease risk of fracture in jaws and teeth
- decrease risk of concussion.
There are three main types of mouth guards:
- custom-fitted mouth guard. This type of mouth guard is vacuum-formed to ensure that it fits your mouth precisely. While the most expensive, it is also the most comfortable and effective.
- stock mouth guard. A mouth guard that can be found at just about any sporting goods store. It is ready-made and can be worn right out of the box.
- “boil and bite” mouth guard. This type of mouth guard you mold to fit your mouth by placing in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then biting down on it for another 30 seconds, and finally hardening it in cold water. Here’s an instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSr5IgGV5bo&t=7s
Accidents happen, but by taking the proper precautionary measures, one can minimize the risk of dental injury during a contact sport. So, with spring upon us and summer soon to follow, put that mouth guard in and play your favorite sport to your heart’s content.
On the unfortunate off-chance that a dental injury occurs despite your precautionary measures, it is imperative to seek professional medical treatment right away.