At Smiles LA, we understand that accidents happen, especially with children. For this reason, we specialize in several preventive treatments designed to protect your family’s teeth and gums. If you or your child participate in sports or other physical activities, we may recommend a sports guard!
A sports guard is a plastic covering that protects the teeth from injury and trauma. While there are three types of guards, we almost always recommend a custom-designed appliance. A custom-designed sports guard offers superior comfort, durability, and effectiveness.
Avoiding Injury and Trauma
As professional dentists, we believe we must prevent, or at least help prevent, certain oral health problems like injury and trauma. Thanks to improvements in technology and education, it has never been easier to prevent facial trauma. Wearing a sports guard is one of the best ways to protect your teeth during activities that may result in facial injuries.
Trauma to the mouth can result in soft tissue lacerations, fractured or broken teeth, partially dislodged teeth, or knocked-out teeth. According to the Columbia University of Dental Medicine, roughly 80% of these injuries affect at least one anterior (front) tooth. Moreover, 13% to 39% of these injuries occur during sporting activities.
Types of Sports Guards
Regardless of which type of sports guard you choose, it should provide basic protection for the teeth and gums. In most cases, a sports guard only needs to cover the upper teeth to provide adequate protection. However, we may recommend one for the lower arch as well, especially if these teeth have braces or an existing restoration.
The three types of sports guards are:
||Stock Guards: This store-bought product comes prefabricated and ready-to-wear. Because they come preformed, they often bulky, uncomfortable, and cause breathing issues for many people. We usually do not recommend this type of guard unless it is a temporary or last-minute measure.
||Boil and Bite Guards: Another store-bought product that is slightly more effective than a stock guard. These guards are made from a thermoplastic material that becomes malleable with heat exposure. After being placed in hot water, the guard can be shaped over the teeth. The fit of a boil-and-bite guard largely depends on how well you shape it.
||Custom-Designed Guards: This type of guard, which is by far the best option, is made from a resilient, tear-resistant, and comfortable plastic material right here in our office. We use an impression of your teeth and gums to ensure your guard precisely fits your mouth. Most professional athletes prefer custom-designed guards due to their superior comfort, effectiveness, and durability.
How Long Do Sports Guards Last?
Generally speaking, a sports guard should be replaced after each season. The plastic tends to wear down over time, making them less safe and effective after a significant amount of use. Children tend to need more frequent replacements as their teeth and jaws continue to develop, which may affect the fit of their guard. Talk with Dr. Michel H. Elyson, DDS, FICOI to find out about our guard options.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
If you or a family member needs a sports guard, our team is happy to help! Call 323-263-2125 to schedule an appointment today!