Sports dentistry primarily involves the protection of gums, teeth, and hard or soft tissues in the mouth by using well-fitted mouth guards. Neverheless, this field of dentistry is not only applicable to professional or school athletes but even to normal individuals who need specially designed mouth protection such as those who snore. Yet the advancement in sports dentistry is clearly evident in professional sports wherein head gear already includes specifically fitted mouth guards to protect athletes from injuries.
Aside from head gear, sports administrators in schools also require their student athletes to wear face masks and other protective face, mouth, and head equipment to prevent injuries caused by accidents. Mouth guards are not only created to protect teeth, it also stabilizes and protect the temporomandibular joint and covers it from strong impacts. It also reduces injuries to soft tissues such as the gums, inner side of cheeks, and the lips. Some known sports which require the use of mouth guards and head gear include football, hockey, boxing, motocross, BMX bike, skiing, lacrosse, and race car driving.
There are several types of mouth guards available and they differ in the materials used. Some examples are the custom-made mouth guards from sports equipment shops, dentist-made mouth guards, and the boil-and-bite type. The difference about boil-and-bite is that it is made of thermoplastic which is then placed in boiling water to reheat it and the athlete will bite into the semi-warm material in which it adjust to the contours and structure of the teeth and gums .
Custom-fitted mouth guards, on the other hand, are accurately fabricated according to the athlete's teeth structure. It is typically made of acrylic with inner layers made of soft materials for comfort yet the outer layer is made of harder acrylic for protection. There are also performance enhancing mouth wear that protects the jaws such as those from the companies Bite Tech and Makkar. These advance level guards enhances optimal jaw alignment and these are also considered as tools associated with mandibular orthopedic repositioning appliance. Its main purpose is to enhance strength by creating balance and by adjusting the lower jaw joint's gap.
The prices for these mouth guards can start from $ 25 to as much as $ 2000 for the performance enhancing mouth guards. Neverheless, sports dentistry also includes treatment of injuries and trauma caused by sports accidents. It does not only revolve around the prevention of these injuries but also for the treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries related to the mouth and jaw joints. So for active individuals who love sports or even those who are adventure thrill seekers, it is best to talk to your dentist about protective mouth gear.