Why You Should Protect Your Teeth With a Mouthguard During Exercise

Teeth can easily break even in non-contact sports like running or gymnastics. Here's why wearing a mouth guard is an easy way to protect your teeth from damage and expensive procedures.

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

Mouthguards are the last thing we think about when going for a run, heading to the gym, or hopping on a bike. But everyone who has knocked out a tooth wishes they could have known what it’s like to have an artificial tooth. Take Peter, who knocked out his tooth riding his bike at age 10. He has a veneer, which is an artificial tooth. No one can tell that not all of his teeth are real, but as Peter will tell you, it’s not about looks. He has to replace his veneer every 10 years, which is expensive.

Every time Peter wants to whiten his teeth, it’s more complicated since artificial teeth can’t be whitened. His veneer can also pop out if he isn’t careful with how he chews on that tooth. Nothing beats having your full set of real teeth. The way you keep them is by protecting them with a mouthguard at the gym, while riding your bike, or doing any kind of exercise.

Why Wear a Mouthguard During Exercise

Your dental insurance won’t cover you. Think your dental insurance covers you? Think again. Dental insurance isn’t like medical insurance. It doesn’t cover you in case of catastrophe since most plans max out at $2,000 per year. If you fall on your face and knock out four teeth, you could pay up to $20,000 out of pocket.

Teeth are super easy to get knocked out. They’re fragile. I’ve had patients who lost a tooth biting into an apple. Another common one is people holding a wine glass and getting bumped at a cocktail party.

Broken teeth are for life. If you fall off a bicycle at age nine and break a tooth, you’re still stuck with that broken tooth at age 79. Root canals, veneers, fillings, and bonding don’t last forever and you’ll have to deal with getting them done and replaced the rest of your life. Artificial teeth also don’t fade in color at the same rate as real teeth, so you’ll have to work to match the color always.

Mouthguards improve athletic performance. When people work out, they tend to clench their teeth. Those clenching muscles, just like the rest of your muscles, will fatigue and deplete oxygen. Wearing a mouthguard prevents this clenching

How a Mouthguard Protects Your Teeth During Exercise

You don’t have to get an elbow to the face to damage a tooth.

Teeth tap each other during any kind of fall, which leads to cracking, and even loss of the tooth.

A mouthguard absorbs the force of contact and protects against teeth chipping, breaking, or getting knocked out.

You might think of mouthguards for just contact sports, like football and hockey, but you still have to protect your teeth during non-contact sports as well, like gymnastics, ice skating, and skiing.

That’s because, during a fall, even if you don’t hit your mouth, your jaw comes together, causing one tooth to hit the other.

Wearing a mouthguard is like wearing an airbag around your teeth, protecting them from coming into contact during a fall or other impact. This “internal collision” often causes those two teeth to break or crack and require root canals or implants.

Remember, nothing beats having your full set of real teeth.

We take our teeth for granted, but a broken tooth can suddenly affect how you talk, smile, and eat. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Talk to your dentist about a mouth guard — it’s the simplest, most effective thing you can do to protect your teeth from damage and expensive procedures for the rest of your life.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Learn More: 9 Unexpected Ways Teeth Get Chipped