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Did You Know March is Brain Injury Awareness Month?

Learn How Protecting Your Mouth Aids in the Protection Against Concussion

Concussion evaluation and prevention has increasingly become a widespread concern, particularly in youth sports. Football tends to be the primary focus of these injuries, but all sporting activities, regardless of level of contact or gender, face a risk. In fact, sports such as baseball and basketball report a higher percentage of orofacial injuries.

New theories suggest that the use of mouthguards can prevent certain sports-related concussions. Use of properly designed and fitted mouthguards may help to absorb shock and stabilize the head and neck following a direct hit to the jaw. A recent study found that high school football players wearing store-bought mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouthguards (Academy of General Dentistry, 2014).

Although research continues to be done on the relationship of mouthguards and concussion prevention, it is proven that properly fitting mouth appliances offer protection against sports-related orofacial injuries. The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports that dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports In 2012, it was forecasted that more than three million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events and further that athletes that do not wear mouth guards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth (American Dental Association, 2013).

However, it is important to note that not all mouthguards are created equal. A proper mouthguard must meet a lengthy list of criteria including: protection, fit, adequate thickness, excellent retention, comfort, and not hindering breathing or speaking ability. The concern is that the typical mouthguards bought at a sporting goods store, which are worn by the vast majority, do not meet these requirements.

Mouthguards bought “off the rack”, while the most cost-effective option, come in limited sizes and offer the least protection. They are typically cumbersome and must be held in place by biting, which interferes with speech, breathing, and protection. Often, athletes cut down the material for a more comfortable fit, further reducing the amount of protection.

A custom-made mouthguard, provided by a dental professional, offers the best defense against injury. These mouthguards take into account the level of activity involved in the sport, the age of the athlete, previous health history, current and ongoing dental and orthodontic treatment, and other factors. They are also made specifically to mold to the individual athlete’s teeth and mouth, so as not to interfere with comfort, breathing, or speech. While a custom piece does come at a higher cost, it is far less than the cost of long-term dental care, surgeries, or other medical needs that may arise from the use of an inferior product or nothing at all. Dr. Scott Finlay can provide the custom made mouthguard please call his office for a consultation.

Of course, while mouthguards offer increased protection, nothing is failsafe. It is important that if you or your child suffers a dental injury, to be seen by a professional right away. Teeth that are not properly treated after an injury made face a lifetime of dental costs and the possibility of a snowball effect of other dental problems, particularly if the tooth or teeth are broken or knocked out completely.

Should a tooth be lost, Dr. Finlay can provide a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for a dental implant. A dental implants is an artificial root that allows Dr. Finlay to either design a crown or a prosthesis that can attach to the artificial root to replace the entire tooth. After the evaluation, a detailed treatment plan will be designed by Dr. Finlay in coordination with the oral surgeon and a dental lab technician. For the procedure, the patient is placed under IV sedation, the tooth is removed, the bone is evaluated, and the implant is placed, guided by the specific details designed by Dr. Finlay. The implant is then allowed to fuse with the bone for approximately three to four months. At that point, Dr. Finlay will create the final restoration using computer aided technology to create custom abutments and fixtures as well as dental restorations that look like natural teeth.

Have a mouth injury? Contact Scott Finlay and Associates, DDS at 443-276-4094 to make an appointment for an evaluation.

Need a mouthguard? Dr. Finlay has services available to create customized mouth protection. Please call 443-276-4094 to make an appointment for consultation.