Athletic Mouth Guards

January 2020
Workers Compensation

Some of the most common sports injuries involve the mouth and teeth. According to Delta Dental, during a single athletic season, a sports player has a 1 in 10 chance of suffering a facial or dental injury. And the American Dental Assistants Association reports that 15 million Americans suffer dental injuries and 5 million teeth are lost in sports-related injuries each year. So how can you protect your smile? Gear up with a mouthguard before you hit the field or court.

What is a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a flexible plastic appliance that’s worn during athletic and recreational activities to protect your mouth. The American Dental Association recommends that people of all ages use a properly fitted mouthguard in any sport that may pose a risk of injury.

Do mouthguards prevent injuries?

Mouthguards can prevent serious injuries such as brain hemorrhages, unconscious incidents, jaw fractures, and neck injuries by helping to keep the lower jaw from being jammed into the upper jaw. The appliances also move soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, helping to prevent cutting and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear braces.

Which sports require mouthguards?

See the list of activities below that the participants would benefit from as recommended by the American Dental Association.

What are the characteristics of an acceptable mouthguard?

According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouth guard should:

• be properly fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to oral structures

• be made of resilient material approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

• cover all remaining teeth on one arch, customarily the maxillary

• stay in place comfortably and securely

• be physiologically compatible with the wearer

• be relatively easy to clean

• have high-impact energy absorption and reduce transmitted forces upon impact

Although there are many types of mouthguards and  materials used to fabricate them - the best mouthguards are fabricated by dentists to meet the recommendations established by the ADA. Even so, cost may be an issue when deciding whether to have a dentist fabricate a custom mouthguard or to go with an over the counter product.

Because dental insurance payers are aware that the cost of repairing damaged dentition is high, many are now covering custom mouthguards fabricated by a dentist. In order to identify patients who might benefit from having a custom athletic mouthguard, the health history form should be modified to include a question about the patient’s participation in any type of sports activity. Should the patient indicate they are involved in one of the activities listed above, the dentist may recommend a custom athletic mouthguard to protect the teeth and mouth. When verifying benefits, it is important to determine if athletic mouthguards are covered and at what rate. Most conventional Delta Dental plans do cover athletic mouthguards at some level unless the plan specifically excludes them. Covered services can vary widely and it is advisable to verify coverage prior to implementing treatment.

Mouthguards as a promotional outreach:

Many dental practices volunteer to fabricate mouthguards for the team and go so far as to fabricate them using the team colors. This service introduces the dental practice and the dental team to the players and their families and helps to show that the practice cares about the players. (Note, however, that reimbursement varies widely from plan to plan.)

The appropriate code to report the athletic mouthguard is: D9941 fabrication of athletic mouthguard.


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