What Sports Should Be Played with a Mouthguard?

Sports & Recreations

  • Author Dr. Randy Machen
  • Published February 28, 2022
  • Word count 513

As a dentist, all too often I see patients come in with broken or knocked-out teeth because of a sports-related accidents. Damaged teeth are one of the most common sports injuries, and unfortunately, they’re also often very costly to treat. To avoid the extreme pain and high fees that can come with a dental injury, wearing a mouthguard is highly recommended. Of course, for many sports, such protection is considered mandatory, but even activities that don’t have such a requirement can still carry a risk of getting hit in the mouth. It’s important to be aware of which sports should be played with a mouthguard as well as why such protection is required in the first place.

What Sports Require Mouthguards?

Football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and many martial arts typically make wearing a mouthguard a requirement to participate. However, the American Dental Association actually recommends oral protection for a much wider range of activities. There are two broad categories of sports where mouthguards may be called for:

• Contact and Collision Sports: Any sport where players have a high chance of running into each other or getting hit in the face can put your teeth at risk if you suffer a blow to the head or face. Such sports include basketball, boxing, football, hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, wrestling, and water polo.

• Limited Contact Sports: There are many sports where participants usually don’t make contact each other. While this can mean there’s less of a risk for accidents, there are still many examples of limited contact sports where you could end up taking a blow to the face. Limited contact sports where a mouthguard is recommended include baseball, field events, equestrian events, racquetball, volleyball, and gymnastics.

In short, almost any athlete can benefit from wearing a mouthguard even if they’re not explicitly told that they need one. Even recreational activities like weightlifting can be made safer with an oral appliance protecting the teeth and gums.

Why are Mouthguards Important?

To understand why mouthguards are so highly recommended for sports, it’s important to understand exactly what it is that mouthguard does. When there’s an impact to your mouth or the rest of your face, the bottom jaw may slam up, causing your lower row of teeth to slam into the upper row. A direct impact could easily end up breaking the enamel or knocking a tooth out of its socket.

But if you wear a mouthguard from your local dental practice, there will be a barrier between the teeth preventing direct contact. Furthermore, the appliance will also spread out the force of the impact so that it covers a wider area instead of occurring in just one spot. As a result, there’s much less risk of the impact causing any permanent damage.

If you have a favorite sport, you should talk to a trusted dentist as soon as possible about having a custom mouthguard made. As always, being proactive about preventing dental problems can go a long way towards keeping your smile safe and avoiding expensive emergencies.

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