Mouthguards, which are essential to safe sparring practice, provide critical protection to teeth, cheeks, jaw, and tongue. Numerous studies (and painful personal experience) demonstrate the benefits of mouthguards in contact sports, especially sports involving martial arts and self-defense. Additionally, particular attention has been given to the use of mouthguards by children participating in sports.
What is a Mouthguard?
Mouthguards are flexible dental appliances used for protection against injury in recreational and athletic activities. According to this article, mouthguards generally last between 2-10 years (depending on growth and activity level), and can help prevent broken teeth and serious injuries such as concussion. The benefits of mouthguards include:
Reduced risk of laceration or bruising
Increased prevention of tooth dislocation or fracture
Reduction of rates of neurological injury
Although many mouthguard users are well aware of specific benefits regarding preservation of teeth, the advantages of active use extend well beyond the mouth. Mouthguards provide essential support concerning cushioning blows to the skull. They reduce the risk and seriousness of concussions and help keep participants awake even if they do catch a stray hook kick to the chin.
An essential function of mouthguards is preventing concussive shock, which can cause lasting and permanent neurological effects. Vibration incurred by blows to the skull can affect the temporal bone and impact cranial nerve trunks that affect balance and hearing.
The use of custom mouthguards, which are designed to fit individual users, helps to protect teeth and diffuse vibrations impacting the skull.
Promoting Consistent Mouthguard Use
It is recommended that participants in sparring use mouthguards at all times. Men should always wear groin cups. Taking steps to ensure that participants are using this vital protective equipment, even while not directly engaged in contact with other participants, helps to further prevent the possibility of injury. This means that students should use mouthguards even when not directly sparring with partners.
Selecting the Right Mouthguard
Injury has the potential to sideline any serious athlete and recovery time can be costly and prolonged in instances of injury to the head. Take care to protect your student athlete by purchasing approved mouthguards.
Mouthguards are effective tools for preventing injury, but only when the integrity of the mouthguard has not been compromised. Make sure to be attentive to mouthguard degradation and deformation. Friction and chewing on mouthguards can cause the material to deteriorate, which may impact its effectiveness in preventing injury. Please make sure that you protect your student by following the guidelines above concerning mouthguard use.