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As spring football approaches, fans anticipate a competitive, hard-hitting practices. We might not know what uniforms the teams will be wearing until game day, but every player will have one thing in common — a mouthguard.

Football players wear a lot of protective gear, but the mouthguard may be one of the most important parts of the uniform. An athletic mouthpiece is essential to protect their mouths in light of all the collisions that occur on every play.

You don’t have to be a Division I athlete to benefit from wearing a custom-fitted mouthpiece while you compete, however.

Whether you’re on a high school team or just a recreational athlete, you can get one of those mouthguards at Pioneer Dental Group in Oregon City.

Protecting your teeth

Football players, hockey players, and combat athletes have worn mouthguards for decades. But you’ve probably noticed athletes in several other sports are using mouthguards as well.

Basketball and soccer players, skiers, and lacrosse athletes can be seen wearing mouthpieces. In some cases, volleyball players, gymnasts, and extreme sports athletes wear them, too.

Even sports that are “non-contact” can be high impact. That impact — whether it comes from getting tackled, falling down, jumping and landing repeatedly, or being hit with a ball or an elbow — can damage your jaw or your teeth.

Now, no one here is going to tell you to stop playing sports. They are fun, and they can motivate you to stay in shape.

But we know all sports have risks. That’s why skateboarders wear helmets and pads. That’s why football players are covered in protective equipment, and that’s why hockey goalies wear protective masks.

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs recommends that athletes in many sports should wear mouthguards.

Don’t risk a more serious injury when a little protection could save your mouth.

Where to get your mouthguard

Researchers in another study determined that athletes who don’t wear mouthpieces were up to 60 times more likely to have dental injuries than those who do.

A variety of mouthguards are available at sporting goods stores. These are better than nothing, but the ADA Council recommends a custom-fitted mouthguard to get the best protection.

And the dentist office is the best place to get one of these mouthpieces.

For children, whose mouths are still growing and developing, an injury can cause their teeth or jaw to grow out of alignment. If you are wearing an orthodontic device, a dentist can create a mouthpiece to help with that, too.

But mouthguards aren’t just for children, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. A lot of “weekend warriors” would benefit from wearing an athletic mouthguard as well. You don’t have to be LeBron James to save your teeth.

Football players wear helmets to help reduce the risk of concussions. A mouthguard can save your teeth and your jaw from something more serious.

Take care of your mouthguard

The Journal of the American Dental Association recently printed an article with tips on taking care of your mouthpiece.

Please review this list to keep your mouthguard in its best possible condition so it helps you. Here are some things to keep in mind:

– Rinse your mouthguard and clean it with a toothbrush after every use.

– From time to time, use cool, soapy water to clean your mouthguard.

– When not in use, keep your mouthguard in a vented container.

– Watch for wear and tear. Your mouthguard won’t last forever. Replace it when needed.

– Keep your mouthguard out of hot places.

– If you have a retainer or other removable dental appliance, take it out when you are wearing your mouthguard.

– In spite of what you may have seen some professional athletes doing, do not chew on your mouthguard. Also, don’t cut pieces off your mouthguard.

– Wear your mouthguard during practices and games.

– Bring your mouthguard to you regular dental exams.

Save your teeth

A dental injury can cost thousands of dollars to fix. A mouthguard costs a fraction of that, and it can save you from costly, painful treatment.

When your coach encourages you to “leave everything on your field,” he or she doesn’t mean your teeth. You should strive to do your best, but you should also take precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy when the game is over. We would much rather see you smiling than try to reset your jaw or fix a broken tooth.

To get your custom-fitted mouthguard, contact Pioneer Dental Group today. Make an appointment by calling 503-388-4691 or filling out our online form.