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Protect Your Grill

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - -- Have you ever had a tooth knocked out? Odds are it was not a pretty sight - in fact it was probably pretty ugly for those who witnessed it.
The copious amounts of blood, severe pain and soaring dental bills are the perfect way to ruin a sporting event and the whole day.

This is why mouth guards are recommended for anyone who partakes in contact sports. The device is placed inside of the mouth and conforms around the participant’s teeth to protect them from harm.

Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer broken teeth, split lips and jaw fractures by not wearing a mouth guard, according to the American Dental Association.

Dental injuries most commonly occurred as a result of contact with another player or contact with a playing apparatus. It is important to talk to a dentist about getting an athletic mouth guard and avoid injuries to the mouth while playing sports.

Sports that mouth guards are recommended include basketball, football, soccer, baseball, hockey, rugby, field hockey, lacrosse and other contact sports that more commonly result in injuries.

There are three common types of tooth injuries, which may or may not involve split lips or jaw fractures, caused by sports. They are a fracture, avulsion and luxation.

Fractures include a broken or chipped tooth, which can fracture the root of the tooth as well. Avulsion happens when the entire tooth is knocked out. If this happens, place the tooth back in the socket if possible and have the athlete bite down on a towel with ice. If this is not possible, handle the tooth by the crown, not the root, and rinse only with water. Most school nurses and coaches now place the avulsed tooth in a “Save-A-Tooth” jar they stock. Luxation is when the tooth is still in the socket but the wrong position.

If any of these injuries occur, handle the tooth carefully and see a dentist immediately. All of these injuries are painful and can easily be prevented by wearing a sports guard.

Fundamentally, the design of a mouth guard must be such as to permit it to fit firmly and comfortably upon the upper teeth of the wearer. They must, moreover, effectively protect the wearer’s teeth, lips and jaw against injury from blows to the jaw and mouth area.

There are three types of mouth guards to choose from, including stock or ready-made, boil and bite, and custom mouth guards, said Col. John A. Safar, 21st Dental Squadron commander.

Stock sports guards can be found at the base exchange or most sporting goods stores. They are the least expensive, but are sometimes ill-fitting and are more easily displaced. Similar to stock, boil and bites are also inexpensive, but are more accurate and form fitting. Custom sports guards are the most expensive, but also the most comfortable because they are custom made by your dentist to fit exactly from a model of your teeth.

“It takes less time and money to create a mouth guard than the multiple specialty appointments needed to treat tooth injuries from sport trauma,” said Col. Jay S. Taylor, 21st Dental Squadron Area Dental Laboratory director.

Protecting natural dentition is both easier and cheaper than getting dental work done.

“Most patients find the mouth guard very comfortable and its use lessens the risk of damaging their natural teeth,” said Safar. In Colorado, the average cost of a crown is approximately $1,238, but active duty personnel can get a sports guard at the Peterson Dental Clinic for free.

For additional information about free sports guards on base, please call the Peterson Dental Clinic at 719-556-1333 or stop by. We are located across the street from the base exchange and commissary in building 2012T.

Further knowledge regarding sports guards and dental care can be found at the American Dental Association website at

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