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FOR RELEASE: March 14, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Sports-Active Teens Should Wear Mouthguards for Protection

Each year thousands of teens get hurt on the playing field, basketball court or while skateboarding, biking or during other sport activities. Blows to the face in nearly every sport can injure teeth, lips, cheeks, and the tongue. Mouthguards can help protect your teeth and smile whether you participate in contact or non-contact sports, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

A properly fitted mouthguard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can protect your teeth and smile. Usually you see athletes wearing them in contact sports such as football, boxing, ice hockey, lacrosse and women’s field hockey. You don’t have to participate in a contact sport to benefit from the safety protections provided by mouthguards, however. New findings in sports dentistry show that even in non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, mouthguards help protect teeth.

The three types of mouthguards that provide protection may vary in comfort and cost. They are the ready-made or stock mouthguard, the mouth-formed ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard, and the custom-made mouthguard made by a dentist. The most efficient should have several features, including being resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable and easy to clean, and not restrict your speech or breathing.

Mouthguards usually cover only the upper teeth but in some cases the dentist will make a mouthguard for the lower teeth. Some tips to help take care of a mouthguard include:

Rinse with cold water or an antiseptic mouth rinse before and after each use. You can use toothpaste and a toothbrush to help clean it.

When it’s not being used, place the mouthguard in a firm, perforated container to permit air circulation and prevent damage.

Avoid high temperatures such as hot water, hot surfaces or direct sunlight, which can distort the mouthguard.

Check it for tears and holes, and to see whether it has become loose. A mouthguard that’s torn or in bad shape can irritate your mouth and lessen the amount of protection it provides.

Have regular dental checkups and let the dentist check your mouthguard to make sure it is in good condition.

Remember to wear a mouthguard to help protect your smile. For more information, contact the county health department in your area or your dentist.

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