I just received a penalty for not having a mouth guard. Why do I need to wear one?

The Hockey Doc: The importance of mouth guards By Dr. Rob LaPrade
http://drrobertlaprademd.com

Question: I just received a penalty for not having a mouth guard. Why do I need to wear one?

Answer: I think you know part of the answer to this one already. While the obvious answer to using a mouth guard is that it protects your teeth from being chipped or knocked out, a mouth guard is also a very important safety device to prevent injuries.

The main purpose of a mouth guard is clear. It is there to protect your teeth from possible direct blows where they can either be chipped, significantly fractured, or knocked out. While serving a purpose in this regard, they also help to prevent some of the bad lip and cheek lacerations which can happen when a tooth is broken.

The other purpose of a mouth guard is to act as a shock absorber in your mouth. It serves as a spacer between the top and bottom row of your teeth and absorbs shock should you receive a blow to your jaw. You can imagine that if you have a significant blow to your chin that this force is going to go from your chin up through your jaw bone, into your teeth.  In this regard, a mouth guard helps to decrease jaw bone (mandible) fractures.

I hope this answers your question and that you choose to wear a mouth guard in all ice hockey related activities in the future. Wearing a mouth guard, and the rules which enforce it, are sort of like the rules for having seatbelts in cars. The mouth guard serves as a seatbelt to protect your teeth & jaw bone.

Robert F. LaPrade, M.D., Ph.D. is a complex knee surgeon at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.  He is very active in research for the prevention and treatment of ice hockey injuries. Dr. LaPrade is also the Chief Medical Research Officer at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Formerly, he was the team physician for the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team and a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the U of M. If you have a question for the Hockey Doc, e-mail it to editor @ letsplayhockey . comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 10:25

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