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Mouthguards Help Prevent
By Kenny Cabe, ATC | St. Francis Sports Medicine
Participants in most sports can avoid the pain and inconvenience of an injury if they utilize the proper equipment. In many sports, this includes a mouthguard.
The American Dental Association estimates that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries in high school and college sports annually. In a 1995 study by Raymond Flander, he indicated that in a sport such as football, where mouthguards are mandatory, only 0.7 percent of all injuries involved the teeth and/or oral cavity. In basketball and soccer, where mouthguards are not mandatory, 34 percent of all injuries involved the teeth and/or oral cavity.
Mouthguards are designed to cover the teeth and the surrounding tissues. The goal is to protect the teeth, lips, gum and tongue. The mouthguard creates a barrier and cushion between the upper and lower jaw, helping to distribute the forces of an impact or collision. Some experts also indicate that mouthguards assist in preventing or decreasing the severity of concussions by dispersing forces of the impact. A good mouthguard has several features. It should be protective, resilient, tear resistant, odorless and comfortable.
Athletes should wear a properly fitted mouthguard when participating in any collision sport or a sport where there is a risk of contact. It's much easier, less painful and inexpensive to prevent and injury than to deal with one after the fact.