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Shooting, Scoring and Saving Your Teeth

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Shooting, Scoring and Saving Your Teeth

Shooting, Scoring and Saving Your Teeth

July 26, 2006
By: Shelagh McNally for Dental1

Well the Stanley Cup finished up and Carolina Hurricanes star player Eric Staal is off to the dentist. He is just one of the hundreds of players who will need reconstructive work on lost or broken teeth.

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Caring for Your Mouthguard

Before and after each use, rinse your mouthguard with water or antiseptic rinse.

Clean it using a soft toothbrush and regular toothpaste.

When not in use, store the mouthguard in a perforated container that will allow air to circulate and prevent it from getting damaged.

Avoid extreme temperatures either hot or cold as this can cause distortion. Extremely hot water or sunlight should be avoided.

Check it regularly for holes or tears.

Stop using your mouthguard if it becomes distorted or stops fitting tightly. An ill-fitting mouthguard will irritate your mouth and offer the best protection.


There’s a reason the classic hockey smile is one without its two front teeth – hockey is hard on the pearly whites. A hockey puck can reach speeds of 50 to 90 miles per hour in recreational play, and in a professional game up to 120 miles per hour with the highest velocity ringing in at a force of about 1,000 pounds upon impact. Injuries also come from the body checks and high sticking that happen during a game. Unprotected teeth don’t stand a chance.

The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports that dental injuries are the most common type of injuries and a lost tooth results in a lifetime of dental care that can run as high as $15,000 per tooth. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in last month’s Injury and Prevention, approximately 7 million Americans seek medical treatment for sports injuries at an annual cost of $18.7 billion dollars. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and The American Association of Endodontists are urging players to wear facemasks and mouthguards. Without some kind of face protection there is a 1 in 10 chance of a mouth injury while playing not only hockey and football, but also soccer, basketball and softball.

There are three types of mouthguards presently available. The stock mouthguard, sold at most sporting goods stores, is the least expensive but offers the least protection. Offered in limited sizes and costing anywhere from $3 to $25, this kind of mouthguard has a generic fit. It must be kept in place by constant biting, limiting speech and sometimes limiting proper breathing. Most dentists don’t recommend them due to their poor retention and protection.

Mouth-formed protectors, also called boil and bite, are the most commonly used. They come with a shell lined with acrylic or rubber that molds to the mouth after being immersed in boiling water for 4 to 10 seconds and then bitten down on to make a cast of the teeth. Although about 90 percent of most athletes use the boil and bite mouthguard, it’s not really a custom fit so the protection is minimum. Often times the guard is cut down to fit the mouth, which results in the posterior teeth not being covered. Many dentists warn about the false sense of protection these types of mouthguards offer.

The best choice for protection, comfort and fit is with a custom mouthguard. Made by your dentist for you, they offer the best fit and most protection. The vacuum mouthguard is made from thermoplastic material and uses a stone cast to create the custom-fit set by a special vacuum machine. The mouthguard can be trimmed and polished without lessening its effect. The laboratory pressure laminated mouthguard uses high heat and pressure to chemically fuse a multi-layered mouthpiece. More dentists are recommending these multi-layered guards because they are not bulky but they still offer more protection.

So save your teeth while scoring – get a mouthguard.

"This is the first tooth I've lost, knock on wood," said Staal "I've got a lot of chin scars, but never lost a tooth. Maybe I'll smarten up and wear a mouthguard from now on.”

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