For orthodontic patients, facial, jaw or mouth protection is crucial. Mouth guards are one of the most important aspects of team/ personal sport gear; happen to be the least expensive aspects of protective gear and one of the best long-term investments in having a healthy smile. Athletic programs require such gear to help minimize tooth trauma and jaw injuries. This includes cheerleading, gymnastics, soccer, karate, boxing, football, basketball, and anytime there can be physical contact.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends mouth guards be worn any time the teeth could come into contact with a ball, a hard object, another player or the pavement. This applies to organized sports as well as leisure activities such as bicycling, skating and running. A survey by the AAO found, only 33% of parents said they have their child wear a mouth guard. You can pick up mouth guards over the counter or have them custom fit, which offers the most protection.
Mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. If a mouth guard is not worn, the more common injuries are, cuts to the lips, cheeks and jaws, broken teeth, loosened teeth or the most serious, teeth that have been knocked out. Jaws pushed out of alignment can also occur. A tooth that has been loosened has been pushed into the socket (intruded), knocked part way out of the socket (extruded) or pushed sideways but still in the socket (luxated).
Most adults and parents do not realize that not only do mouth guards save teeth and protect jaws from breaks, mouth guards may also protect against injuries to the neck and central nervous system by decreasing force transmitted through the jaw to the base of the skull – a particularly sensitive area for children, teens and adults.