Mouth Guards for All Basketball Players
Traditionally, mouth guards have been used to protect boxers, football players, and hockey players. Now it is becoming more evident that mouth guards need to become a mandatory piece of equipment for basketball uniforms.
A mouth guard is a protective piece of equipment used in sports to protect athletes from an injury to the mouth, teeth, and lips. A 2013 report by Young, Macias and Stephens, states that orofacial injuries are 1.6 to 1.9 times more likely if a mouth guard is not used. If an athlete were to get hit in the face when they were not wearing a mouth guard it could be very damaging. A hit to the lower part of the face could cause forced shocks that have the ability to permanently damage one’s skull and jaw.
In recent seasons the number of athletes in the NBA that regularly play with a mouth guard has greatly increased. Brook Lopez of the Nets has yet to play a game with a mouth piece, but admits he is beginning to feel “left out” due to the number of major basketball athletes that have begun playing with them. In past, the mouth guards were one size fits most, uncomfortable, and sometimes just did not provide enough protection. Presently, mouth guards range from $10 to hundreds of dollars depending on the brand, color, amount of protection, and comfort level. While there are custom made mouth guards for basketball players in the WNBA and NBA, it is quite expensive for amateur athletes to have this much needed, personalized protection at a reasonable cost.
The most basic forms of mouth guards for basketball players can usually be purchased at any convenient sporting goods store or online. Major problems that can be associated with, and expected to be had with, these most commonly used mouth guards are that they only come in limited sizes, may cause speech to be less clear, and are known for discomfort. The Academy for Sports Dentistry has considered some as “unacceptable as orofacial protective device.” To overcome these challenges, dentists should begin by asking sport participants if they wear mouth guards during game and practice activities and discuss appropriate solutions to minimize the perceived negatives. The American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs encourages patient education about the benefit of mouth guard use. The Council recommends that people of all ages use a properly fitted mouth guard.
Basketball is a physical sport involving rebounding which leads to elbows being flung around and much contact between players. The American Dental Association and the International Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend using mouth protection for 30 activities, including basketball. Mouth guards need to become a mandatory piece of gear for all basketball players, no matter their level of play or gender. The most commonly used guards do not protect enough and are not made for the athletes to play with ease. The mouth guards need to be comfortable, durable, affordable and useable for athletes. Changing the way the basic ones are made to fit more of a custom type feel, while still having reasonable prices, would help to assist in the increasing use of mouth guards for all basketball players.
Family Dental Care states that “basketball players are twice as likely as football players to sustain oral injuries.” If public schools across America can provide their football players with comfortable and efficient mouth guards, then basketball teams should have the access, too. Improving the accessibility of mouth guards for a sport that traditionally does not use them would result in an increase of awareness for just how physical the sport of basketball is.