Sports Dentistry and Mouthguards
Sports dentistry covers the prevention and treatment of oral and facial injuries incurred by participants competing in any sporting event. While sports injuries are common — especially those to the mouth, teeth and jaw — many can be avoided or minimized with the use of a properly fitted dental mouthguard.
Our Grand Rapids sports dentists know from experience that mouthguards are not only essential for football players, boxers and hockey players. Athletes in many non-contact sports such as roller blading, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, baseball, wrestling and skateboarding experience unnecessary injuries to their teeth, mouth and jaw that can be prevented by wearing mouthguards properly fitted by our Grand Rapids sports dentist.
The overall cost of repairing a tooth well exceeds the minor cost of a properly fitted mouthguard. Our Grand Rapids mouth guard dentists can ensure proper fit and function of your child’s mouthguard to help prevent costly and debilitating oral or facial injuries during sports participation.
Sports mouthguards are worn over your upper teeth to protect against injury during sports participation. A properly fitted mouthguard should be sturdy and durable, easy to clean, comfortable, resist tears, and should not restrict breathing or talking. Our Grand Rapids Dentist will create a custom mouthguard designed to protect your teeth from a contact injury to your mouth or facial area.
There are three types of mouthguards:
- Stock: A basic mouthguard that is inexpensive, comes ready to wear and can be found at sporting good stores. These pre-formed mouthguards are uncomfortable, disrupt breathing or talking and provide minimal protection. In addition, you cannot adjust them to fit properly and — because of this — Grand Rapids dentist Katie Burggraaf DDS does not recommend this type of mouth protection.
- Boil and Bite: These guards fit better than stock mouth protectors and are made from thermoplastic material — which can be softened in hot water and then placed in your mouth and shaped around the teeth.
- Vacuum or Laminate-Pressed: These are custom-fitted in a dental office or lab based on your dentist's instructions. First, your Grand Rapids dentist will make an impression of your teeth and mold a mouthguard over the model using a special material. Due to the materials used and precise tooling required to ensure proper fit, these mouthguards cost more but offer more comfort and protection.
The generic stock or ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards bought at sporting good stores without a sports dentist do not offer adequate support for an athlete’s teeth. Everyone’s teeth have unique characteristics — and age, gender, sport, competition level and position all play important roles in the type of mouthguard your child needs to properly protect their teeth and jaw.
For patients who wear braces or another fixed dental appliance, your Grand Rapids Sports dentist will create a mouthguard for your lower teeth as well.