Mouthguard season

Fall is in the air. It’s sunny but cool — time for long pants and sweaters, pumpkin spice and leaves changing colour. It’s time to tidy up after summer and prepare for winter. That means it’s mouthguard season! Above multi-coloured mouthguards. Photo courtesy Barry’s Bay Dental Hygiene Clinic

There’s no real mouthguard season, but fall always seems to be the busiest time of the year when it comes to fabricating custom mouthguards. That’s because so many fall and winter sports and activities are safer with a mouthguard. Activities like hockey, horseback riding, ski racing, snowboarding, football, rugby, soccer, skating, and field hockey are all activities for which dental professionals recommend considering the use of a mouthguard.

A mouthguard is a piece of rubber formed in a U shape to cover one arch (usually the upper) to act like a shock absorber and shield to help prevent concussions, to protect the teeth, tongue and lips from possible damage. 

Mouthguards can be a one-size-fits-all appliance, a Do-It-Yourself boil-and-bite appliance, or can be custom made. A professionally made custom mouthguard stays in place easily, and can make it much easier to speak and breathe while wearing the guard to enjoy your favourite activities.

To have a custom mouthguard made an appointment with your dental professional is necessary. A quick impression of your teeth will be taken to allow your dental professional to make an exact model of your jaw. The mouthguard material is then melted over the model, cut, dremeled, smoothed and melted again until it is one piece of shiny, comfortable protection. After being disinfected and put in a case it’s ready to be tried in your mouth and used.

Cleaning your mouthguard is simple: just use a toothbrush and your favourite mouthwash or a denture cleaning foam to kill and remove bacteria and fungus that live in your mouth naturally. To help prevent discolouring and bad taste and smell, you should do this after each time the mouthguard is placed in your mouth.

Many may remember that at Barry’s Bay Dental Hygiene Clinic (BBDHC) we used to run a fall mouthguard clinic that offered a drop-in day for impressions. Although we enjoyed those clinics and looked forward to making a bunch of mouthguards, the number of people taking advantage of the mouthguard clinic plummeted. This can be attributed to minor hockey making the decision that mouthguards were no longer required for players wearing a full face cage and proper helmet. Although I understand their position and ruling, I see preventable injuries each year that make me hope for change. I’ve seen kids with missing pieces of tongue, big scars on their lips, chipped and broken teeth. It will be interesting to see if anyone is studying these effects. Over time I predict these somewhat minor damages will lead to thousands of dollars spent to maintain or fix over the lifetime of the person who had the injury. A $40 boil-and-bite mouthguard is worth the investment if that is the case.

The author displays a custom mouthguard. Photo courtesy BBDHC.

Although there won’t be a specific date for a mouthguard clinic this year, custom mouthguards can be made anytime. Evening appointments are available for those who need to come after school or work.  There are many colours and colour combinations to choose from. An impression can be taken and the mouthguard ready to be picked up the next day in most cases. If you would like more information about having a custom mouthguard made at BBDHC please feel free to contact us by email info@bbdhc.ca, or phone 613-75MOUTH (756-6884). 

So dig out those warm clothes, shoes and boots. Prepare your yard and home for the cooler days ahead, and don’t forget to book your impression appointment for that shiny new mouthguard you require for your fall and winter activities.

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