The Olympics are just around the corner and a common favorite Olympic sport is hockey. But have you ever wondered why hockey players wear those ever-present mouthguards?
Mouthguards have been around since the 1930s but are still merely recommended by the NHL, not required. Mouthguards offer protection against injury to the mouth and facial areas. Mouthguards generally cover the upper teeth and come in three types: ready-made, boil-and-bite and custom made. Let’s look at some of the reasons why mouthguards should be mandatory in any contact sport.
Protects the teeth
The most obvious reason for using the mouthguard is that it protects the teeth against chipping, breaking or fracturing. In hockey, there is a chance of being struck in the face by a stick or the puck. A broken or chipped tooth can also cause lacerations to the cheek, gums or lips. Those hockey players with gaps in their smiles probably weren’t wearing a mouthguard.
Acts as a shock absorber
In hockey, where the chances of injury are very high, a mouthguard acts as a shock absorber between the top and bottom teeth, thus cushioning against a blow. An upward hit to the chin can radiate into the jawbone, to the teeth and to the facial bones, causing major damage.
Protection for players who are wearing braces
Wearing a mouthguard protects players who have braces from sustaining major lacerations in the lips, cheek or tongue should they be struck by the stick, puck or by body parts of other players.
Remember to wear your mouthguard the next time you pick up your hockey stick and enjoy watching the Sochi Olympics! Go USA!