Mouth guards protect your teeth & maybe even your brain

Whether you spent two years wearing braces or managed to avoid the orthodontics chair with perfectly aligned dental genetics, your teeth still need protecting. And we’re not just talking about using your retainers, daily flossing, and making your 6-month dental check-ups a major priority. 

While Mint Orthodontics recommends athletes wear mouthguards, the National Federation of State High School Associations only mandates mouthguards for football, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling (only for wrestlers wearing braces).

If you’re an athlete (or a parent of one), with braces or without, wearing a mouthguard can make all the difference in preventing injuries and orthodontics setbacks, and even concussions. Keep reading to learn the benefits of wearing a mouthguard and the risks associated with leaving your teeth to defend themselves. Afterall, more than 5 million teeth get knocked out playing sports every year accruing nearly $500 million in cost for care!

MN hockey player wearing a mouth guard ready to defend the goal

The importance of Mouthguards

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Accidental collisions and impacts are inherent risks in many high-contact sports. Wearing a mouthguard offers a protective shield for your teeth, significantly reducing the likelihood of chipped, broken, or knocked-out teeth, which can have long-lasting consequences for your oral health and appearance. This is vital for athletes of all ages and particularly important for those with braces, as the brackets and wires can amplify the impact on your teeth– especially if you aren’t interested in experiencing emergency trips to the ortho!

More mouthguard benefits

Concussion Risks

Studies suggest that well-fitted mouthguards can help reduce the risk of concussions by absorbing some of the impact forces. In fact, a Canadian study suggests that youth ice hockey players who wear mouthguards may have significantly lower odds of concussion. The study found that the use of mouthguards lowered the odds of concussion by 64%.

Vivera Retainers in case as an alternative to Hawley teeth retainers.
woman covering her ears while husband snores loudly in bed

Breathe easier

Sleep Apnea

Wearing a mouthguard can be an effective treatment option for a specific type of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep, leading to repeated pauses in breathing and disrupted sleep patterns. A mouthguard used to treat sleep apnea is called a mandibular advancement device (MAD) or a mandibular repositioning device (MRD).

Here’s how a mandibular advancement device works to prevent sleep apnea:

  1. Jaw Repositioning: The mandibular advancement device is designed to reposition the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward. By doing so, it helps to enlarge the airway and prevent its collapse during sleep. This forward movement helps to keep the airway open, allowing for better airflow and reducing the likelihood of apnea episodes.
  2. Increased Muscle Tone: The slight repositioning of the jaw also leads to increased muscle tone in the throat area. This added muscle tension helps to keep the soft tissues of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway.
  3. Improved Airflow: By keeping the airway open and preventing obstructions, the mandibular advancement device facilitates smoother and uninterrupted airflow. This helps individuals with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea experience improved breathing and reduced sleep disruptions.
  4. Reduction in Symptoms: Individuals who use a mandibular advancement device often report a decrease in common sleep apnea symptoms, such as loud snoring, gasping for breath during sleep, and daytime fatigue.
  5. Comfort and Compliance: Mandibular advancement devices are generally more comfortable than other treatment options like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. This increased comfort can lead to higher compliance rates, as individuals are more likely to use the device consistently.

It’s important to note that while mandibular advancement devices can be effective for some individuals with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, they might not be suitable for everyone. The severity of sleep apnea, individual anatomy, and other factors play a role in determining the most appropriate treatment approach. Consulting with a sleep specialist or dentist who specializes in sleep apnea is crucial to determine if a mandibular advancement device is the right option for a specific individual.

As with any medical treatment, it’s essential to undergo proper evaluation and follow the recommendations of healthcare professionals to ensure the most effective and safe treatment for sleep apnea.

Stop the daily grind

Bruxism (teeth grinding)

Mouth guards provide protection from teeth grinding in a number ways.

  1. Cushioning Effect: Mouthguards absorb and distribute the forces generated during teeth grinding. This minimizes the wear and tear on the teeth’s surfaces, preventing damage such as enamel erosion and fractures.
  2. Protection of Dental Work: For those with dental restorations like crowns, bridges, or veneers, teeth grinding can pose a major risk to these restorations. A mouthguard acts as a protective barrier, preventing potential damage to dental work.
  3. Preventing Tooth Sensitivity: Grinding can wear down the enamel on teeth, leading to increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet stimuli. A mouthguard acts as a buffer, protecting the enamel and reducing sensitivity.
Minneapolis woman with mouth pain needing mouth guard for grinding teeth from Mint Orthodontics in Minneapolis

Jaw Protection

Impact to the face can lead to severe jaw injuries, including fractures and dislocations. Believe it or not, a mouthguard cushions these forces, reducing the risk of such traumatic injuries. If your sport includes high-sticks, flying pucks, or collisions, wearing a mouthguard may be one of the best decisions you can make on the court, field, ice, or mat.

Soft Tissue Safeguard

A mouthguard not only protects your teeth but also provides a buffer against cuts, lacerations, and bruises to your lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue, which can cause major pain and discomfort. Without one, these soft tissues can be vulnerable to injuries during a game and can impact your playing time, speech, and even your appearance. 

Preventing Orthodontic Setbacks

Braces are a commitment to a healthier smile, and it’s essential to protect this time and financial investment– along with your orthodontist’s handiwork. A mouthguard acts as a barrier between your braces and the inside of your mouth, reducing the risk of cuts, abrasions, and potential damage to the orthodontic appliances. Athletes with braces are at an increased risk of damaging their orthodontic appliances during sports. A lack of protection can lead to bent or broken brackets and wires, potentially extending the treatment timeline.

Boosting Confidence

Knowing that you’re taking proactive steps to protect your oral health can boost your confidence on and off the field. A mouthguard allows you to focus on your game without worrying about potential dental injuries. More so, customizing your mouthguard with your name, number, team mascot, or school can boost your confidence and your school spirit. At the very least, rocking a one-of-a-kind mouthguard will distract your opponent because they’ll be wondering how they can get such a cool mouthguard too!

Protect what’s important

The Importance of Wearing a Mouthguard

The old adage holds true. Wearing a mouthguard is a proactive measure that can spare you from painful injuries, emergency dental visits, and lengthy orthodontic repairs.

Whether you’re on the basketball court, the soccer field, or the wrestling mat, wearing a mouthguard should be as essential as wearing the right gear. It’s a small investment that reaps enormous rewards, from preventing injuries to preserving your dental and orthodontic health. Regardless of whether you have braces or not, make sure to choose a properly fitting mouthguard that suits your needs and provides the protection you deserve. Your oral health and sports performance are worth safeguarding – one game at a time.

Mint Orthodontics’ mouthguards are developed specifically to benefit everyone, regardless of wearing braces. Our mouthguards leverage cutting-edge technology and materials, resulting in mouthguards that are durable and highly-effective in absorbing and dissipating impact forces– plus you can pick a design that best suits your style and personality.

If you’re in need of added protection from taking hits from linebackers, flying pucks, elbows or yourself (teeth grinders, we’re talking to you), selecting a high-quality mouthguard is always a safe bet.

Minneapolis woman with mouth pain needing mouth guard for grinding teeth from Mint Orthodontics in Minneapolis

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