Some sports are much more physical compared to others. As such, sports like boxing and mixed martial arts mandate well-fitted mouthguards. In contact sports, mouthguards have already been so common that some athletes even create their custom versions of a mouthguard. Conor McGregor’s vampire mouthguard is a great example. Some martial artists also put on mouthguards that bear the colors of their flag.
In other sports, however, dental protection isn’t required regardless of how much physicality is involved. According to the CDC, there are about 600,000 emergency-room visits due to dental injuries caused by sports each year. But only a handful of those sports requires dental protections like mouthguards. Here are different sports that should require the use of athletic mouthguards — and yet, they don’t:
According to research, in all of the amateur sports, basketball has the highest recorded instances of dental injuries, which is higher than a fairly more contact sport such as football. Professional basketball players like Stephen Curry already practice the use of a mouthguard in each game, but players in high school and college tournaments rarely do. While basketball is not a highly physical sport, there’s still some contact (whether intentional or not) between players that could result in injuries, especially when the game gets too intense.
In 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) conducted research and recommended ten different sports that should mandate the use of a mouthguard, and that list includes volleyball. It may be one of the sports with the least amount of contact, yet there is still no guarantee of it being a dental injury-free sport. Getting hit on the face with a volleyball is likely to happen in each match, especially with strong hitters like South Korea’s Kim Yeon-Koung and China’s Zhu Ting.
Baseball and softball are two sports that were also specified by the ADA to require athletes to wear mouthguards. Like in volleyball, a ball hitting your face during a baseball or softball match is something probable. The danger does not only lie on the baseball/softball itself but also when players accidentally bump into one another as they try to score over the home plate or slide over to secure a base.
Skateboarding is a sport without a ball but with great risks of dental injury. No matter how skilled an athlete is when performing tricks, there is still a great chance of face-first falls that could ultimately result in a trip to the emergency room. So even if it isn’t a contact sport, skateboarding should require the athletes to put on a sturdy mouthguard before they step onto their boards.
Mouthguards are not only there to protect your smile but also your gums from any other oral-related injuries. Even if your sport is not technically a high-contact one, it still pays to be cautious. By simply wearing a mouthguard in every volleyball match, or whenever you’re in the skate park, you can prevent dental injuries that could potentially affect your athletic career — and more importantly, your life.