A Note on Mouth Guards for Sports

Bite Guards

As a dentist I frequently see evidence of patients grinding their teeth. One of the solutions is a bite guard with the idea that the patient will grind on the plastic rather than on the opposing tooth- thus saving the teeth from further wear from grinding (the plastic is much less abrasive).

Guards for Sports

One of the uses that needs to increase in popularity is wearing bite guards for sports. I am sure that those of you who are hockey fans have seen the many hockey players with missing front teeth.  It’s amazing how damaging a hit from a puck, stick or fist can be. Football is another dangerous contact sport. And for something unusual there are reports of teenagers trying to do a slam dunk and get their teeth caught in the net, pulling at least one tooth out!

Saving a Tooth

If a tooth is lost in such a way, DO NOT RUB OR CLEAN IT OFF!!! There are cells on the root surface which are key to trying to save the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown, rinse with milk (first choice) or water, then place in a cup of milk until you see a dentist. You can store the tooth in your mouth between the cheek and tongue, but there is always a risk of swallowing the tooth. The 3rd choice would be putting the tooth in a glass of water. The dentist will place the tooth back in the socket if he can and stabilized the tooth with a wire and/ or white filling material.   At some point afterward, or even prior to replanting the tooth a root canal must be started. If this step is omitted the tooth can undergo external resorption. This is a process where the root will actually, over time,dissolve, leaving no root for the tooth.

I am glad that there is more research being done to prevent sports injuries. For the teeth, a bite guard and a helmet are the first lines of protection and should be worn where appropriate.