Hockey players are notorious for sporting gap-toothed smiles, but don’t let that make you think less aggressive sports are any different. Baseball and basketball are responsible for nearly half of sport-related mouth injuries, and it’s amazing how quickly a child’s soccer game can go from, “Go for the goal!” to a big, gaping hole. In fact, sports accidents are one of the leading causes of tooth loss among children and young adults – accounting for about 5 million lost teeth per year.

Just like helmets, kneepads or shin guards, mouth guards play an important role in protecting the body from harm when playing sports. The best choice is a mouth guard that fits well, and doesn’t interfere with speech or breathing.

Basic mouth guards can be found at sporting good stores and are good for the occasional bike ride or basketball game. Mouth-formed or “boil and bite” mouth guards soften when heated and conform to the mouth for a better fit. A custom mouth guard can also be made by your dentist to fit your exact mouth. This is typically a more expensive option, but the comfort and fit may be worth it for active men, women and kids. Talk to your dentists about the best way for you to play it safe.

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