With the start of the new year in 2014 and Superbowl XLVIII coming up in February 2, 2014 I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the relationship between dentistry and sports.
Contact sports like football, basketball, soccer, rugby, boxing, lacrosse, and hockey often subject the human body to physical trauma, and one area is the teeth and gums. To help prevent and reduce injury to said teeth, lips, and gums, a sports mouthguard is recommended. Incidentally a mouthguard may also be used as adjunctive treatment for bruxism and tooth bleaching.
In the mid 1940s Dr. Rodney Lilyquist, a dentist in Los Angeles, is credited with the introduction of the modern mouthguard for athletes. A UCLA basketball player and a San Francisco 49er quarterback were among the first athletes to utilize the mouthguard. 1940s/1950s studies show that dental injuries accounted for as much as 50% of all injuries in football in the US. By 1960, the American Dental Association (ADA) began recommending the use of mouthguards in contact sports. In 1962, all US high school football players were required to wear mouthguards. In 1973 the NCAA required mouthguards for all college football players. The result has been a reduction in dental trauma, injuries, and contact related dental emergencies.
MOUTHGUARD AND DENTAL TRAUMA
The role of mouthguards is prominent where accidental or incidental impacts to the face, mouth, and oral cavity can cause physical harm and oral and maxillofacial trauma. Schools and various sports associations have begun mandating mouthguard use. Unfortunately some studies have shown such individuals in high contact sports have low compliance of regular mouthguard usage. However, studies have also shown that even with regular usage, complete effectiveness against dental trauma is not always achieved due to poor fit and size.
SOME TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS
There are a few types of mouthguards available today:
- READY MADE: These mouthguards are already premade. The only adjustment possible is via a scissor or trimming knife to approximate shape. Protection and fit is considered poor.
- MOUTH ADAPTED/STORE BOUGHT: These are readily available in many over the counter pharmacies and sports stores. They come in a prefabricated thermoplastic material that one takes home and boil to allow the material to adapt to the teeth. Protection and fit are considered average and better than the "ready mades" but overall protection is compromised due to the soft vinyl material.
- CUSTOM MADE: Your dentist takes a custom mode of your teeth via an impression material, usually via a hyrdo-colloid alginate or vinyl-polysiloxane material. The mouthguard is hence made from the impression taken. Protection and fit is considered more optimal with this type due to the indirect custom impression, and the material is a hard, rigid, durable, and protective.
Warm Regards from your gentle family dentist in Bellevue,
Dr. Peter Chien