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    Are Athletic Mouth Guards Really Effective?

    Are Athletic Mouth Guards Really EffectiveYoung athletes often feel invincible. When they’re on their game, they think there’s nothing they can’t do! But even the most attentive, well-trained athletes have accidents. Ordering a custom athletic mouth guard from Dr. Evanson is a small price to pay to avoid an oral-facial injury, pain, suffering, and years of expensive dental treatments.

    Still not sold? Let’s explore the history of mouth guards in sports, the best mouth guard materials and designs, and just how effective athletic mouth guards really are.

    History of Mouth Guards in Sports

    Professional boxing was the first sport to require mouth guards back in the 1920s. Next to follow was high school football in the 1960s. Today, the NCAA demands mouth guards for football, field hockey, lacrosse, and ice hockey players, but the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends their use in 29 separate sporting and exercise activities.

    Mouth Guard Materials

    Not all mouth guards are created equal. Different materials affect the appliance’s hardness, shock absorbency, fit, stability, stiffness, and strength. Among the most superior modern mouth guard materials are Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and polyurethane (PU). These transparent copolymer plastics are also used in other types of sporting equipment to absorb shock and add padding.

    Mouth Guard Designs

    Specific designs vary based on the sport the mouth guard is meant to accompany and the characteristics and size of the athlete’s mouth. Designs typically fall into three categories:

    • Stock mouth guards: Non-customized mouth guards are available “off the shelf” at drug and sporting goods stores. These low-cost options are also the least effective. They come in limited sizes, and there’s no fit adjustment for the athlete’s unique mouth shape and size. While they’re better than nothing, the ADA doesn’t consider stock mouth guards an acceptable facial protective device.
    • Mouth-formed protectors: These are the most common type of mouth guards used today. A step up from stock mouth guards, mouth-formed protectors are made of thermoplastic lined with acrylic or rubber. Boiling the mouth guard softens the thermoplastic so it molds to your teeth. Unfortunately, “boil-and-bite” products come in limited sizes, lack proper extensions, and often fail to cover all your teeth.
    • Custom-made mouth guards: The best type of mouth guard available is one custom-made by a dental professional with the athlete’s individual needs in mind. Even the very best over-the-counter product can’t account for the athlete’s age, growing jaw, or erupting teeth the way custom athletic mouth guards can. They are resilient, comfortable, easy to clean, and fitted based on an exact mold of the athlete’s teeth.

    The Effectiveness of Athletic Mouth Guards

    Hundreds of studies dating back to the 1980s show that compared to having no protection, wearing any type of mouth guard reduces the number of fractured teeth in an impact. According to the ADA, athletes are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth if they don’t wear a mouth guard. In addition, the Academy of General Dentistry estimates that 200,000 high school and college-age athletes in the US avoid mouth injuries each year by wearing mouth guards.

    Talk to Dr. Evanson About Having a Custom Athletic Mouth Guard Made

    If your son or daughter plays sports, make sure their teeth and mouth are protected with a custom athletic mouth guard. The team at Evanson DDS is experienced with taking molds and creating custom products for athletes of all ages. Our goal is to prevent oral-facial injuries in kids, teens, and adults who play sports, though we also offer emergency dental services if an incident occurs on the field.

    For more information about athletic mouth guards, or to schedule an appointment to have one made, please contact Evanson DDS online or call our Parker office at (720) 409-0008 today.

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