Safety equipment in sport is often overlooked unless the rules require it to be worn. Instead of wearing as little as possible, people who play sports should be taking the extra step to ensure they are fully protected. One area that is constantly overlooked in multiple sports is protecting the mouth. A serious fall or strong blow to the mouth can lead to serious injuries and an even more serious medical bill. Reports showed that over 5 million teeth are knocked out every year and more than 600,000 emergency room visits are due to dental injuries.
Sports safety is of the upmost concern for parents. This February, we published a guide to kids' lacrosse gear for parents. In Lacrosse a mouth guard is a mandatory piece of gear. This month, however, we look at sports that don’t require mouthguards... but should!
Wearing a mouth guard for biking may seem like it panders too much on the side of safety. Yet while a bike helmet will protect a rider’s head from concussion it doesn’t cover the face. Most riders will know a fellow rider who has lost a tooth or two after a fall. Many cyclists avoid mouth guards believing that they are a waste of time and can hinder performance. Yet they found a study from the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research that showed that riders who wore a custom-built mouth guard were able to increase their VO2 max. Safety equipment that not only protects the body but aids performance is surely something to be invested in.
Baseball is a sport that doesn't require mouthguards despite the huge potential for dental injuries. Your Life Values believes that both batters and outfield players are at risk from dental injuries. They point out that a ball pitched or hit directly to the face has a big possibility of causing serious head injuries. The site notes that female softball players at high school and college level will have a mask on their helmets to protect their face. If the men’s baseball game won’t employ a mask then it should at least make mouth guards compulsory.
Considering the amount of regulations that a riding hat must acquire in order to be certified to protect the head, it’s slightly strange that the face is not also safeguarded. An unbroken fall from a horse can cause a lot dental damage, particularly if the rider goes forward over the horse’s head. Horses have minds of their own and it can only take a shake of their head with your face in close proximity to also cause injury.
Concussions in all sports is a huge concern and in recent years sports like soccer have taken action to better prevent potential head injuries. The English Premier League introduced new rules that state that a player must be removed from the field if they suffer a head injury. A recent example of this was Premier League defender Craig Dawson who received a head injury, and according to soccer journalist Luke Moore who covers EPL games as well as Champions League fixtures for Betfair, he had to miss the next game because of it. While a mouth guard can’t protect against concussion it can reduce the chance of dental injuries. Luckily for Dawson he didn’t incur any dental injuries but many soccer players have in the past, so this would certainly be a welcomed safety addition to the game.
It is fair to say that when it comes to choosing the right tennis gear, the emphasis is more on style than safety. While a tennis ball may seem soft when you bounce it, a well hit shot can cause a lot of injuries if it hits a player directly in the mouth. Doubles has the added danger of getting an accidental racket in the face. Speaking to Long Island Tennis Magazine, a player told of how an accidental hit to her face cost her “six stitches, one root canal, and two caps.” Her dentist bills could have been avoided if she had been wearing a mouth guard (something she does wear now).
Hopefully this article has raised awareness of how mouth guards should be used in all sports. Even if the sport is non-contact there is always a chance of getting hit with a ball or falling. A mouth guard is cheap piece of kit that can potentially save a lot of money.