Unsurprisingly, a 2002 study revealed that athletes who wore mouthguards had significantly reduced rates of dental injuries. The term “athlete” is relative, since your athleticism might be reduced to a few hours of athletic activity on weekends nowadays, but no matter the sport — flag football, rec soccer, pickup basketball — you can still catch a fierce elbow or headbutt to the mouth.
Enter doctor visits, dental bills, and incessant inquiries from co-workers as to why four teeth packed up and left your mouth.
Also: 6 Myths About Your Teeth
“I’m usually in the office seeing emergencies on Sundays,” says celebrity dentist Dr. Joseph Banker. “Compare the cost of a mouthguard to the cost of fixing trauma in the mouth and it’s a no-brainer.”
Here, Dr. Banker explains why you should wear a mouthguard and offers tips for mouthguard maintenance …
#1. KEEP IT OUT OF SUNLIGHT
Like Mogwais, mouthguards hate sunlight. Many affordable ones are made of thermoplastic, and when left in direct sunlight for too long the material will deform. When you spend a few bucks on a boil-and-bite, it’s not that big of a deal. But if you shelled out $200 or so for a custom-made guard, a bonehead move like that is like getting kicked in the
#2. WASH WITH SOAP
Filthy mouthguards can carry bacteria and molds that lead to infection. But the wrong cleaning method will ruin the mouthguard. “Don’t use anything abrasive that will scratch them up,” Dr. Banker suggests. “A soft toothbrush and soap will work. And use lukewarm or cool water. Or you can pick up an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for like $20.”
#3. YOU’RE PROTECTING MORE THAN TEETH
Unfortunately, a mouthguard won’t do much against a nut shot. However, it will add a layer of protection for the entire mouth — not the just the teeth. “It’ll also protect against things like lip trauma and lip spitting,” Dr. Banker says.
And by lip trauma he means one of your teeth tearing through your lip. There’s also the possibility that a collision might cause you to bite a chunk out of your tongue. Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves …