As the new season approaches, athletes around the world are gearing up for try-outs. For many, this means new gear and a new mouth guard. This the perfect time to remind parents and kids of the importance of mouthguards in dental safety, from keeping it secured in your mouth during the game to mouthguard hygiene and maintenance. The truth is: if you don't have a clean mouth guard, it can do more harm to your teeth than good.
It's not uncommon to see youth athletes, or even professional athletes (we see you, Stephen Curry), touch the guard with dirty hands, throw it in the gym bag with no case, or pick it up off the ground and put it back in their mouth.
You wouldn't use your toothbrush after it fell on the bathroom floor, would you? The same should be enforced with mouthguards. Who knows what kind of microorganisms have been picked up from a dirty mouthguard?..... Actually, we do!
According to a study published by American General Dentistry (AGD), mouth guards can be the breeding ground to life-threatening bacteria, yeast and mold. Germs found in mouthguards can lead to strep and staph infections, which could leave the entire team on the bench.
A mouth guard is the ultimate habitat for microorganisms to live. The dark and moist environment is where such as mold and bacteria thrive the best.
"These concerns are similar to using an infected toothbrush repeatedly or using silverware that has not been cleaned properly," says AGD spokesperson Bruce Burton, DMD, MAGD, ABGD. "Although a mouthguard is recommended to prevent permanent damage to the mouth and teeth, we know it also has the potential to be a reservoir for bacteria that can cause gum infections or the bacteria that help promote tooth decay."
Custom fit mouthguard - Your mouthguard is less likely to contract bacteria and other germs if it stays in your mouth the entire game. Unlike conventional mouthguards, SISU guards have been scientifically tested and proven to carry no bacteria for this very reason. The perforations allow for better flow of saliva and prevent bacteria from pooling in the mouthguard.
Sharing is NOT caring - It's a no-brainer to the adults, but it may not be as obvious for kids. When kids have the same color mouthguards it can be easy for them to confuse.
Brush your teeth before putting on your mouthguard - Carry a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in your gym back to do a quick clean up in the locker room.
Use a case - Packed with sweaty shorts and dirty cleats, your gym bag is the worst place to store a loose mouthguard.
Clean your guard - Follow these easy steps for a squeaky clean mouth guard.
Carry a back up - Always carry a back up mouthguard in case your primary guard gets dirty or damaged
Replace your mouthguard - Just like with a toothbrush, bacteria can build up over time. Mouthguards should be replaced every season.
Don't let your guard make you sick. You belong out there on the field, not in bed. Follow these mouthguard safety tips to keep it clean and covered so it can protect you longer and more effectively.