The Canadian Dental Association highly recommends individuals who play contact sports use appropriate face and head protection to minimize the risk of injury to the face, head and neck. Sports organizations have a responsibility to reduce risk of injury in sport, in particular, by developing sport-specific safety protocols. Injury prevention is critical because individuals who experience an oral and maxillofacial injury must cope with the short-and medium-term challenges of treatment and recovery, in addition to potential significant long-term consequences on their health and quality of life.
Use of a properly fitted mouth guard, preferably custom fitted by a dentist, decreases the risk of orofacial injuries because they are more comfortable and therefore more likely to be properly positioned at the time of impact. Other face and head protection is essential because mouth guards have a very limited role in preventing brain concussion.
The Academy of Sports Dentistry (www.academyforsportsdentistry.org), dedicated to the collection and dissemination of information on dental athletic injuries and the encouragement of research on the prevention of dental injuries to athletes, is an excellent resource.
CDA recommends that:
- Dentists review, as part of the patient’s health history, their sport activities and recommend face and head protection to limit the severity of impacts to the head, face and neck.
- Players consider a custom mouth guard, rather than an over-the-counter mouth guard, because when they are more comfortable and when fitted properly they provide better protection.
- Sports organizations are encouraged to work with local dentists who can advise on more cost-effective ways such as group and team programs to provide custom mouth guards to help reduce lacerations and fractures associated with participating in sports which have increased risk to facial trauma like baseball, hockey, soccer, football, rugby and basketball.
- Patients undergoing orthodontic treatment get a custom fit mouthguard to accommodate the process.
- Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Mouthguards for the Prevention of Dental Injuries and Concussions: Clinical Effectiveness. 2016. Available from: cadth.ca/mouthguards-prevention-dental-injuries-and-concussions-clinical-effectiveness
CDA Board of Directors
Approved: February 2005
Updated: February 2019