Why You Should Always Wear a Mouthguard for Soccer
Protect Your Smile on the Pitch
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans, so it’s probably no surprise if someone in your family plays the sport. But as fun as this pastime is, it can also be very physical – and from a dental point of view, that fact can be very concerning. Up to 30 percent of all soccer related injuries are in the orofacial region. So while mouthguards are not strictly required to play soccer, as a dentist I strongly recommend that you wear one to protect your pearly whites on the field.
The standards for wearing mouthguards while playing soccer tend to vary. It’s mandatory in some states, leagues, and competitions, but it remains optional in others. In fact, there is a disturbingly high percentage of soccer players that do not use mouthguards at all. Some say it is because they find them uncomfortable or even detrimental to their performance, but this will not be a problem with a mouthguard that has been properly designed and fitted. In any event, the benefits of a mouthguard far outweigh the drawbacks; after all, a little discomfort is nothing compared to potentially losing a tooth!
So why should you or your loved ones get a mouthguard for soccer even when you’re not explicitly told to so? There are three reasons that a professional player might cite:
Reason 1: Mouth Injury Prevention: When the action gets heated, there’s a chance of getting elbowed in the face or mouth by an opponent. And of course, there’s the ever-present risk of getting hit in the face by a ball. Both types of injuries can knock out teeth or cause other oral injuries, but a mouthguard can significantly soften the blow.
Reason 2: Improved Confidence: Knowing that your teeth are protected can make you a more confident player, which can have a positive effect on your performance. You can give your all without worrying about what could happen to your smile. (Of course, there’s such a thing as too much confidence, so even with a mouthguard be sure not to take any unnecessary risks.)
Reason 3: Enhanced Performance: Some soccer players claim that mouthguards improve their balance, strength, and overall performance. This is the most debatable benefit of mouthguards and may be a mistaken belief, but of course the protection that mouthguards provide is the most important reason to wear one in the first place.
In short, it is in your best interest to get a mouthguard as soon as possible once you or someone you love signs up for a soccer team. But what kind should you get? Some are designed to be taken straight out of the box and worn right away, but the lack of customization means they usually don’t fit properly and thus are not as safe. You can also find boil-and-bite mouthguards at the store; you boil the oral appliance to soften the material, then bite down on it so that it conforms to the shape of your teeth and gums. This is a more adaptable over-the-counter option, but it still lacks the oversight of a professional.
The best kind of mouthguard is one made by a dentist in Lakewood. Having a professional design, the appliance based on impressions of your mouth is the best way to get a long-lasting mouthguard that fits perfectly on your teeth. As you might expect, a professionally made mouthguard tends to carry a higher cost than a store-bought one, but the benefits balance it out.
In short, if you want to prevent a dental disaster while still enjoying the sport you and your family loves, getting a mouthguard should be your first step.