By DR. MICHAEL J. STROKECKER, DMD
CHEROKEE INDIAN HOSPITAL
The importance of Athletic Mouthguards, also called sports mouthguards cannot be over stated. It is not uncommon throughout the year to see athletes of all ages present to the dental clinic with facial trauma due to athletic injuries. These injuries include but are not limited to lacerated tongues, fat lips, fractured teeth, pieces of broken teeth embedded in lips, gravel and rocks embedded in lips, broken jaws, loose teeth, and even teeth that are totally knocked out. Many of these injuries could have been avoided by simply wearing a mouth guard.
Athletic mouthguards are plastic appliances that cover your teeth and gums and protect them from being damaged while playing sports. Not only do they protect your teeth and gums, but also make it difficult to bite your tongue if hit unexpectedly. It is not uncommon to see athletes who play full contact sports, such as football, wearing such appliances. However, did you know that we often see athletes who play other sports such as softball, baseball, and karate, who have experienced facial injuries that could have been avoided had they been wearing a mouthguard? These injuries are not limited to organized teams. Actually, these injuries are often less associated with organized sports, where mouthguards are required, then they are with “Pick-up” games played in local fields and playgrounds. Skateboarding and trick biking can also be an unexpected source of preventable injuries.
Mouthguards come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some can be purchased as a take home kit in the dental isle of local convenience stores and pharmacies. They often work by heating the plastic “C” shaped piece of rubber in hot water or a microwave and then using your fingers to press it around your teeth and gums. Others are custom made by a dentist. Molds of your mouth are taken and a mouthguard custom fabricated in a lab to meet your needs.
If you play competitive sports, you should have a mouthguard made. If you eligible for care at Cherokee Indian Hospital and play organized sports, you are welcomed to schedule an appointment with the C.I.H.A. dental clinic to have a mouthguard custom made just for you. You can even choose from a variety of colors. Info: 497-9163 ext. 6478.