When most people think of summer in Michigan they picture sunny days spent at the lake, outdoor concerts and the smell of recently cut grass. Michigan summers are the reward for the punishment that is Michigan winter.
When I think of Michigan summers I think of getting hit in the face with a softball. Or maybe getting an elbow in the incisor while playing basketball. And summer always leads to fall football season, which sometimes leads to broken teeth. I know, I’m kind of weird. But summer is definitely the season of dental sports trauma.
Sports trauma is one of those things that athletes don’t want to think about. I routinely talk to high school aged kids that play sports and almost none of them use a protective mouth guard unless they are required. Most athletes will never experience an “orofacial injury” while playing sports. The problem is that if it happens, it’s really bad news. According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries:
- Tooth and other dental injuries are the most common type of head and neck injury sustained during participation in sports.
- A tooth knocked out (complete avulsion) while playing sports is likely to cost $20,000 or more to replace over a lifetime
- Fixing a tooth or teeth that are broken but not lost during sports will likely create expensive problems that will need to be dealt with over the athlete’s life.
Am I using scare tactics? You betcha! I have treated patients who have needed extensive dental work to fix problems that could have been prevented. They all wish that they had been wearing a mouth guard when they got nailed with that baseball!
I know what you’re thinking. Wearing a mouth guard sucks. They’re bulky and annoying. They make you drool. They look silly. I would agree with you if you’re talking about the store bought “boil and bite” mouth guards. They’re awful. A custom made, lab fabricated dental mouth guard that is appropriately trimmed and adjusted is a whole different story.
We have mouth guards made in a lab. We use a super accurate impression material to make a model of your teeth and then have a lab fabricate a mouthguard of ideal thickness. A thicker mouth guard offers more protection, but that needs to be weighed against comfort. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it. Since different sports require different levels of protection, we can make a mouth guard in varying thicknesses depending on whether you’re boxing or playing tennis. Whatever sport you play, we’ve got you covered. More importantly, we can get all different colors and styles, add straps for football and even fit patients in braces!
The bottom line is that you should be wearing a mouth guard if you’re playing sports. Most athletes are pretty sure it couldn’t happen to them. I know a few that used to think that. They wear mouth guards now!
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