Football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby...these are the sports you think of when you think of "contact sports" that wear mouthguards. But with the increase awareness of dental injuries and new technology, baseball and softball leagues are starting to consider mouth guard for themselves too.
Baseball is a sport where mouth guards are not required despite the potential for dental injuries. Your Life Values points out that both batters and outfield players are at risk from dental injuries. A ball pitched or hit directly to the face can cause serious head and oral injuries. Pitchers and cricket bowlers are also at risk of getting hit in the face with the ball.
And the numbers don't lie...An athlete is 60 times more likely to incur a dental injury if they are not wearing a mouth guard. It's estimated that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 dental injuries every year.
Most non-contact sports don't require mouthguards, but the American Dental Association still recommends them for "non-contact, competitive, or recreational activities". Sports such as softball, baseball and cricket, which are relatively contact-free, still see a dental injuries because of their laxed mandates. In fact, only 7% of baseball players are reported wearing mouthguards. With no mandate requiring players to wear mouth guards, injuries to player’s teeth have soared. Just ask Houston Astros player, Colin Moran....
So, why not just mandate them? Easier said than done. Many league have started to require them, but are usually met with push back because athletes hate mouthguards. Typically, they're bulky and get in the way of their game. Athletes need to be able to communicate, drink, and breathe in order to perform well, especially for a team sport.
The answer to that is a thin and custom fit mouthguard that players won't notice, which are becoming more accessible and affordable. Up until recently, if an athlete wanted a custom fit mouth guard, they had to go to their dentist which was costly. Now they can do it themselves.
When it comes down to it, an athlete of any sport puts their body at risk for injury. That’s why it’s so important to invest in protective gear, regardless of the rules. They may not be the sexiest thing in the world, but a toothless grin is definitely worst.