I was watching the Olympics last night and was pleasantly surprised to see the male ski jumpers wearing mouthguards. The sport looks inherently dangerous. The athletes speed down a ramp, jump high in the air, do ariel flips, and then must quickly look for the ground to land on their skis. According to an article in the California Dental Association journal, mouthguards are recommended for the following Olympic events: ice hockey, slalom skiing, aerials, skeleton, basketball, field hockey, boxing, martial arts, volleyball, cylcing, water polo and soccer. The type of mouthguard recommended is a dentist made pressure-laminated mouthguard.

In my dental practice I make the pressure-laminated type mouthguard for high school students participating in football, wrestling, soccer, field hockey, and water polo. It is a shame that mouthguards are not mandated in more sports. Sports like ski jumping and football have noticeable dangers that athletes are trying to protect against. The wearing of mouthguards in such sports is expected and accepted by the athletes. It is the sports like soccer and basketball where athletes don't see the need to wear a mouthguard.

I have seen the damage from two soccer related injuries, inflicted by another player. One was a nineteen year old girl that was playing soccer on the weekend with an adult league team. She had one of her front central teeth knocked out. The other one was my fifteen year old cousin. He had his two front teeth knocked inwards during a high school soccer game. An oral surgeon was able to reposition the bone around the teeth, but the teeth themselves died and had to have root canals. Both of these injuries were totally preventable.

Pressure-laminated mouthguards save teeth, prevent broken jaw bones and reduce the risk of injury to the jaw joint. If you play a sport where there is any physical contact with another person or potential contact with a moving object, then you should be wearing a mouthguard!

Kari Ann Hong, DDS
1000 Newbury Road, Suite 190
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320