The most common way to protect teeth and the mouth during athletics is the use of mouthguards. Mouthguards can help protect any athlete and are extremely important to wear when participating in sports. Over 13% of all oral injuries are attributed to sports, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association, but only four high school sports have mandated mouthguard requirements: football, lacrosse, and ice & field hockey.
There are three popular types of mouthguards – stock, boil & bite, and custom-made. Custom-made mouthguards are the most effective at protecting your teeth because they fit best into your mouth – they are created just for your teeth. A dentist takes an impression of your mouth and creates a brand new mold for you. Stock and boil & bite guards are purchased over the counter and feature little to no customization. They are less expensive than custom guards, however, and certainly are worth purchasing if you cannot afford a custom mouthguard. Mouthguards also protect against broader facial injuries, as they can lessen an impact to the face or jaw. Lastly, mouthguards are important for athletes with braces who are at an even higher risk for injury due to the metal fixtures in their mouths.
Always check your mouthguard to ensure that it is not broken or torn, and that it fits properly. Broken mouthguards will not protect your teeth as well, and ill-fitting guards may fall out or irritate teeth and gums during play. Mouthguards also require proper cleaning – brush with toothpaste and water after each use to stave off infection.
Another tip for busy athletes is to drink water and avoid sugary sports drinks, which encourage bacterial growth between teeth. If you do consume sports drinks, try to rinse with water directly after in order to remove the sugar from your tooth enamel.
Most importantly, regular dental checkups are important for all athletes, and your dentist can provide the best advice for protecting your smile during sports. Brighter can help you find a dentist who provides mouthguards at our pre-negotiated Brighter savings rate. Check out Brighter.com to find the best dentist for you in your area, and start protecting your teeth today!
 Kracher, Connie M., and Wendy Schmeling Smith. "Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry." DentalCare. DentalCare.com, 4 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. <http://www.dentalcare.com/en-US/dental-education/continuing-education/ce127/ce127.aspx?ModuleName=coursecontent>.