The Game On Advantage
Author: Dr. Monroe Elkin, BS PHARM., DMD
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Mouthguard for Teens with Braces
The protection of your teenager's teeth, especially when they're wearing braces, can't be emphasized enough. Whether they’re on the field or at a regular training session, it's crucial to ensure their teeth and braces are shielded from potential damage. The answer? A high-quality mouthguard.
Why Mouthguards Matter
Before diving into the specifics of what makes a great mouthguard, it's vital to understand their importance. Mouthguards serve as a protective shield for the teeth, preventing injuries, fractures, and even concussions. For teenagers with braces, they also protect the orthodontic work and the soft tissue from potential harm.
The Reality of Orofacial (mouth and face) Injuries in Sports
To truly grasp the significance of protective mouthguards, it’s essential to first understand the magnitude of the problem. Orofacial injuries in sports are not just an occasional mishap but a recurring danger that athletes, especially teenagers, face every time they step onto the field.
The Startling Statistics:
- High Incidence Rate: According to the National Youth Sports Foundation, dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during sports participation. They also mention that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard.
- Permanent Consequences: The American Dental Association (ADA) reveals that 5 million teeth are knocked out every year during sports activities. Alarmingly, these incidents aren’t just painful but can lead to a lifetime of expensive dental treatments.
- The Most At-Risk Sports: While contact sports like football, hockey, and boxing come with an obvious risk, non-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, and skateboarding contribute a significant portion of sports-related dental injuries as well. Surprisingly, the ADA notes that basketball has overtaken sports like football in the number of dental injuries because of the combination of court action, projectiles, and player contact.
A more comprehensive overview is included at the bottom of this article.
The Hidden Costs:
It's not just the immediate pain or the visible loss of a tooth that’s concerning. Orofacial injuries can lead to:
- Long-Term Dental Complications: Issues like root damage, which might not be apparent immediately, can result in significant problems down the line.
- Expensive Medical Bills: The lifetime cost of replacing a knocked-out tooth can be anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000.
- Loss of Playing Time: Recovery from orofacial injuries can mean weeks, if not months, away from the game. For dedicated athletes, this can be emotionally and physically distressing.
- Emotional and Psychological Impact: Especially for teenagers, a damaged smile can lead to self-esteem issues and social isolation.
The Preventable Nature of These Injuries:
What's truly frustrating about these statistics is how preventable these injuries are. The ADA and the International Academy for Sports Dentistry have repeatedly emphasized the importance of protective equipment, especially mouthguards, in drastically reducing the risk of sports-related dental injuries.
What the doctors are saying
Dr. Monroe Elkin, a former dentist and inventor of the Game On Mouthguard, interviewed Dr. Rodney Jackson, DDS; Pediatric Dentistry of Hamburg and asked him about mouthguards. Dr. Elkin asked, “What do you do in your practices with regard to athletic mouth guards?”
According to Dr. Jackson, “We promote them as much as possible. We tell the patients, I always make small talk with the patients, just kind of see how they're doing in school, what they're doing, the athletics. And then I always say, you wear a mouth guard and inevitably it's, it's amazing to me how few sports really have their players wear mouth guards. It doesn't make any sense to me. In fact, my older son plays basketball, and football and he runs track. He doesn't wear a mouth guard for track, but I make him try to wear a mouthguard for basketball because I see just as many oral injuries from basketball as I do, even more so with football because at least they have protection from a helmet. In baseball, I see injuries almost every day, especially from sports related activities. It just boggles my mind that the coaches don't really stress the importance of mouthguards.”
Dr. Elkin also interviewed Dr. Michael Childers, an Endodontist who attended the University of Louisville for undergrad and Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Dr. Elkin asked, “Do you have much use for things like athletic mouth guards?” Here’s what Dr. Michael Childers had to say. “I usually see patients after the trauma has occurred. One of my first questions is always, were you wearing a mouth guard when the trauma happened? And if they were- great. If they weren't, I encourage them to wear one moving forward. Or if it's a child, I encourage the parents to make their kids use a mouth guard in the future. But I don't see a lot of patients using it preventatively before they've had an injury.”
Dr. Elkin remembered similar experiences noting, “I experienced that too. I'd get people coming in, I remember I had a young lady who was playing basketball, took an elbow in the face. She came into the office and after we took care of her, her mother said, “You think she should be wearing a mouth guard?” Dr. Childers followed that comment saying, “Well, my son played baseball, so I made him wear one. He was probably the only kid on the team that was wearing a mouth guard. But the reason I made him wear it is because, you know, I played baseball growing up. I know bad hops can happen. I mean, that could happen in a second. And if it damages your teeth, that's a problem for a lifetime for a lot of patients.”
Dr. Elkin also asked Dr. Childers about what sports he saw the most patients from. Dr. Childers said, “Most of the patients that I see are usually injured from basketball or football, just like you say, where they take an elbow. And I think a lot of the basketball ones are in pickup games, where it's not an organized game where they might be wearing a mouth guard. They're just out with their friends playing in a driveway someplace and they take an elbow or something like that.”
Not all mouthguards are created equal. The material and design of a mouthguard play a significant role in the level of protection it offers.
The Downside of Traditional Mouthguards
Most custom-fit and over-the-counter mouthguards are crafted from ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA). While EVA might be a common material, it has several downsides:
- Impact Absorption: EVA doesn't offer the best impact absorption. This limitation can leave users, especially those with braces, at risk of injuries.
- Hygiene Concerns: EVA mouthguards are known to absorb germs and saliva, leading to discoloration and unpleasant odors over time.
Introducing Game On Mouthguards: The Future of Dental Protection
Game On Mouthguards set themselves apart from the crowd, boasting a plethora of benefits derived from their innovative design and unique patented fitting material. This material is used in heavy-duty products like car bumpers and personal protective equipment (PPE) - emphasizing its robustness and reliability.
- Superior Impact Absorption: According to an independent third-party research study, Game On Mouthguards can absorb 2x the impact of those made from EVA.
- Hydrophobic Properties: These mouthguards are resistant to germs and saliva, ensuring they remain odor-free and maintain their original color for longer.
- Brace-Friendly Design: One of its standout features, Game On Mouthguards can be comfortably worn over braces, offering comprehensive protection.
- American Made: Crafted with precision and quality, each mouthguard is made in the USA.
- Versatility: They are available with or without a strap, catering to various sports requirements.
- Thoughtful Additions: Each mouthguard comes with a ventilated protective case, complete with a carabiner for easy attachment to sports bags - a feature often overlooked by other brands.
- Variety: With 15 colors to choose from, teenagers don't have to compromise on style.
- Size Options: Whether it's for an adult, teen, or a younger child, Game On Mouthguards has the right fit, available in both adult/teen and youth sizes.
If you have braces and buy a Game On Mouthguard, make sure to explicitly follow the fitting instructions. Here’s the recommended approach from Dr. Elkin, the inventor:
Fitting the Game On Mouthguard is easy. Simply wrap the mouthguard in a wet paper towel and place in an 1100-watt microwave for 30 seconds. If the microwave is less than 1100-watts, add 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the mouthguard from the microwave using a slotted spoon. Note: use caution, the paper towel can be hot. Place the mouthguard in cold water for 3-5 seconds. Unwrap the mouthguard and place in the mouth on your upper teeth. Use a mirror to line up the center line of your teeth. Do not suck on the mouthguard or push it with your fingers, but simply wait 2 minutes for the mouthguard to adapt to your teeth. Over the next 24 hours, your mouthguard will continue to refine the fit and give you a comfortable, custom fit.
The Game On Mouthguard is unique and can be refit if needed as the teeth move during orthodontics.
The ADA Seal of Acceptance: What It Means
The American Dental Association (ADA) doesn't grant its Seal of Acceptance lightly. Game On Mouthguards underwent more than two years of rigorous testing and peer review by the ADA before being awarded this prestigious seal. This recognition isn't just a stamp of approval; it's a testament to the mouthguard's unmatched quality and protection.
Maintenance and Care: Keeping Your Mouthguard in Top Shape
Just like any dental product, keeping your Game On Mouthguard clean is crucial. Although its hydrophobic properties mean less upkeep than other brands, regular cleaning is recommended. Simply rinse it under water and use a toothbrush to scrub away any debris. For a deeper clean, consider using AIRWAAV's all-natural mouthpiece cleaner.
Selecting the right mouthguard for your teenager, especially one with braces, shouldn't be taken lightly. Game On Mouthguards, with their advanced material, ADA's seal of approval, and a design that accommodates orthodontic work, undoubtedly stand out as a top choice.
Remember, in sports, as in life, it's always better to be safe than sorry. And with Game On Mouthguards, safety doesn’t have to come at the cost of comfort or style.
As promised, following is an expanded look at the prevalence of sports-related orofacial injuries.
Sports-related injuries have always been a topic of concern, but the spotlight on orofacial injuries has intensified over the years:
- Magnitude of the Issue: The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation projected that more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events every year.
- Hospital Visits: According to a report from Safe Kids Worldwide, every year, over 1.35 million children experience a sports-related injury severe enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room.
While all sports entail some degree of risk, some stand out more than others when it comes to orofacial injuries:
- Basketball: A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that basketball has one of the highest rates of dental injuries among all sports, especially in high school athletes.
- Baseball and Softball: These sports are responsible for the largest number of sports-related facial injuries in children aged 7-12, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign.
- Cycling: Surprisingly, bicycle accidents contribute significantly to dental injuries, often because many cyclists do not wear mouthguards.
- Hockey & Football: Due to their contact nature, these sports contribute heavily to the number of orofacial injuries. However, it's worth noting that mandatory mouthguard rules in these sports have decreased the frequency of dental traumas.
Orofacial injuries aren't limited to broken or lost teeth. They can encompass a wide range of complications:
- Fractured Jaws: A study revealed that over 5% of all athletes will experience a facial injury, such as a fractured jaw, which could have long-term implications.
- Lacerations and Abrasions: Soft tissue injuries in the oral region can be excruciating and lead to scarring or infection.
- Root Damage: Even if there's no immediate visible damage, a blow to the mouth can cause root damage, leading to issues later in life.
The economic cost of treating sports-related dental injuries can be significant:
- Costly Repairs: As per the ADA, sports-related injuries account for over 600,000 emergency room visits each year, with the total treatment cost amounting to more than $500 million annually.
- Long-Term Expenditure: While the immediate treatment might be costly, the long-term expenses for treatments like implants, root canals, or orthodontic procedures can run into thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
Orofacial injuries in sports are not just a fleeting concern but a significant health risk with lasting implications. Proper education, combined with the use of protective gear like Game On Mouthguards, can drastically reduce the incidence and severity of these injuries, safeguarding the smiles and health of countless athletes.