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Maryanne writes to The Doctors saying she is concerned her son who plays basketball is going to get his teeth knocked out. "Are all mouthguards the same? Can I buy him a one-size-fits-all?"
The Doctors invite cosmetic dentist Dr. Laurence Rifkin to answer her question. Dr. Rifkin points out just how common injuries to the face and teeth are! He says statistics show five million face and teeth injuries every year due to falls and a lot of those are athletic injuries. He says you are 60 times more likely to have an injury to the face, teeth or jaw if you’re an athlete. With a proper mouth guard though, 60-70% of those injuries can be prevented.
Maryanne has a right to be concerned, basketball is the number one sport that causes mouth injuries! The cost of repairs can be extensive, so prevention with a mouth guard is best. While over-the-counter mouth guards are better than nothing, Dr. Rifkin points out on a model why they still can cause problems. He shows how one of these mouth guards may not cover all of the teeth in the back, the lips and the upper gum tissue.
Dr. Rifkin takes another model out of a custom-made mouth guard to show how it fits better in the mouth and offers full protection. He also points out on a skull that the jaw needs to be positioned properly so when the mouthguard is in place, the jaw should be braced. When it’s braced, there is less chance of fracture anywhere in the jaw.
If you get into a situation where your tooth is knocked out (ER physician Dr. Travis Stork knows a thing or two about that), Dr. Rifkin says to save the tooth, if it's a permanent one, and place it in something like milk to preserve it. He says using a real tooth is better than a replacement or a crown.