Canuck Dentist Jeff Says: Don’t Be A Knockout!
Wear a Mouthguard!
My patients often ask me questions about being the dentist of the Vancouver Canucks. The question I am asked the most would be “I bet you see lots of knocked out teeth right?” The truth is that in the NHL we don’t see that many cases where players lose teeth. We see much more of chipped and broken teeth. I was surprised myself when I started working with the team. The reason is professional elite athletes play the game in a structured high level way and sticks to the face are not tolerated by the league anymore. Accidental puck trauma is now the main reason for tooth loss.
Another thing is that a majority of the players are finally wearing custom made protective mouth guards.
Where I see more injuries are amongst kids and amateur athletes playing sports. The statistics on these injuries are still pretty startling.
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety Fact Sheet, Athletes are 60% more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard. The American Dental Association has estimated that properly fitted facemasks and mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone, and it’s not just youth who are vulnerable. The numbers in Canada are proportional.
Many of us will suffer from an oral injury in our lifetime. While a lot of those injuries come from higher contact sports such as football and boxing, a large percentage of tooth knockouts are from weekend hobby sports such as bike riding, baseball, and soccer.
You could buy stock or boil-and-bite types from sporting goods stores, but honestly, I don’t recommend it as your first choice. The bottom line is that many athletes don’t know how to fit boil-and-bites properly or how to judge a stock model, and so end up with a poorly fitted mouth protector. These types do not provide the injury prevention or comfort that a properly diagnosed and fabricated custom-made mouthguard does.
There are many factors to consider:
- Does the athlete have cavities or missing teeth?
- Does a previous dental injury or concussion indicate additional protection in a specific area?
- Is the athlete undergoing orthodontic treatment?
- Is your eight-year-old going to need more space for erupting teeth?
Another thing to consider is whether the mouthguard is designed for the specific sport being played. There are several types of mouthguards plus different levels of impact protection available depending on your sport. A professionally fitted mouthguard is an essential part of your sporting equipment, and I’d be happy to ensure you get the best.
Firstly, custom-fitted mouthguards from our practice work to prevent tooth loss, lacerations, and bruising. Secondly, although there is some debate about their value in preventing concussion, any benefit they provide in absorbing shock or providing jaw stability deserves the benefit of the doubt. I routinely custom-fit mouthguards that allow for ease of communication, proper breathing, and no slipping or choking. And we are experts on making sure all of the considerations listed above are taken into account.
I am an authorized dentist for Under Armor mouthguards. They suggest that their guards can improve performance. I have read through all the studies; I am not sure I am ready to verify that claim but some of our pro players really like them.
Although the investment is a little more than the store-bought variety, a custom-fitted mouthguard’s importance is as high as the protective equipment you buy for the rest of your body. It’s worth it for your peace of mind and your healthy teeth.
I have one last question to ask you… When was the last time you wore a mouthguard for a basketball pickup game or a weekend soccer game? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to call for your fitting!