This is a question I hear often, especially now that the outdoor sports season is upon us. April is National Facial Protection Month, so this is a good time to emphasize the importance of routine use of mouth guards.
It is well established that mouth guards can protect the teeth and jaws from serious damage and trauma, especially for somebody with braces on. Many people are surprised to learn that mouth guards also play an important role in the prevention of concussions.
While mouth guards are typically required equipment for sports such as football and wrestling, I am often asked if mouth guards should be worn for other sports. My answer is an emphatic YES for any activity involving bats, balls, goalposts, elbows, foreheads, pucks, sticks, clubs, or walls, because I have seen serious mouth injuries occur from all of these.
The worst injury I ever treated involved an incident during a high school P.E. class—where they were playing GOLF! The unfortunate student caught the tail end of a golf swing and lost several teeth and part of the upper jaw. Obviously, such protection is typically not needed for golf (unless perhaps I’m on the course….), but this helps make the point. Mouth guards are important!
The best protection is provided by a custom mouth guard made from a dental impression of the teeth. However, this is not practical for an orthodontic patient since the teeth are constantly moving. There are many different varieties of mouth guards available for people with braces, and we can help determine what may be best for you. But the type of mouth guard you use is less important than the fact that you are using one!