Did you know that your dental health is closely related to your sports performance? Most people are not aware of it, but dental health has a very close relationship with sports results. The health of our mouth is something that is very important and that we cannot let go of. Oral health is fully connected to our muscles, and a poor condition of this can lead to muscle injuries. Bacteria and infections in the mouth are linked to not only muscular problems, but also respiratory, joint and cardiovascular problems. Because? Because the blood carries the oral bacteria to the muscles and joints, which causes fatigue and possible injuries.
BEWARE OF BRUXISM
However, one of the most common causes of muscle damage is bruxism. Bruxism is currently too frequent a pathology, 70% of the current population has it. People who suffer from it tend to unconsciously clench their teeth when sleeping. Bruxism causes dental wear, joint discomfort, ear pain, migraines... According to studies, 25% of back and neck pain are caused by chewing incorrectly or by clenching the teeth. That is why more and more athletes go to clinics in search of a discharge splint.
Risk sports are the ones that suffer the most from this pathology, since practicing them generates more tension. However, the splint is very beneficial for any sport. There are some in which there is a direct risk of suffering trauma to the face, such as boxing, rugby, baseball... in these it is more than obligatory to use an unloading splint. However, it is also highly recommended in other sports such as horse riding, windsurfing, water polo... especially for people who wear dental braces. Any blow or injury, no matter how small, can cause damage to the lips or cheeks when rubbing against the brackets.
TYPES OF UNLOADING SPLINTS
The purpose of the splint is to prevent the upper and lower teeth from rubbing together aggressively. That is why it is so important that you go to your dentist, have a check-up and, if necessary, make a discharge splint. Although this is the best option, there are currently different alternatives for athletes, so we are going to explain what these splints are like:
This type of splint that can be easily found in any sports store. It is made of rubber or plastic and its design usually offers different sizes so that everyone can use it. It's a very quick and affordable option, but it won't fit as well in your mouth as a custom-made one. It won't be as comfortable and it may make it a little difficult for you to speak. Of course, it is very economical. It is not an option that we would recommend, but it can be useful at specific moments.
This type of splint is also sold in sports stores and is very similar to the previous ones. However, these splints include a newness: they are thermo-adaptable. What does this mean? They are made with thermoplastic materials and to put it on you simply have to heat the splint in water and it takes the shape of your mouth. When adapted, they give a feeling of protection, but they are not the best option. When doing sports they can move and that would make breathing difficult. It is a better alternative than the previous one, but it is still not the one that we would recommend.
CUSTOM-MADE UNLOADING SPINT
Also known as the Michigan splint, this is hands down the best splint option out there. It is a mouth guard designed to measure in a dental clinic in a totally individualized way. After taking your mouth measurements, they will make a special splint for your mouth. That is why it is so comfortable. They offer greater retention and will never move, completely protecting the teeth and soft tissues. These can be of two types: unimaxillary or bimaxillary. The unimaxilla covers only one arch of the mouth, the upper or lower one. The bimaxillary covers both arches and usually has holes at the bottom to make it easier to breathe. The price of this splint in Spain usually costs around 200 euros, sometimes reaching 400 euros.
CARE OF THE DISCHARGE SPLINTS
How do I wash the splint? How often? I need to buy something? Using the splint is very simple. We are going to give you just 2 tips:
- Before putting it on, you must brush your teeth thoroughly, avoiding food residues on the teeth.
- And what do I do when I take it off? It is recommended to clean the splint after each use. You do not need any special product, just rub the splint with a toothbrush impregnated in neutral soap, in order to eliminate the remains of saliva.
IS IT A CHANCE THAT THE BEST ATHLETES USE IT?
The first time we saw an off-load splint on a soccer field, we were surprised. At first, the most common thing was to see it only in extreme sports, but little by little its use spread to other disciplines. Athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods or basketball players cannot live without it. Chance? The results show that no. Thanks to the splint, athletes perform much better. By biting it they produce more muscle power, as well as improving their balance and strength. The splint manages to accurately align the jaw with the skull, brain and thorax. In Spain we have already seen it in many athletes, but in other countries like the US.The USA, Japan (where he was born), Great Britain or Italy are more than familiar with the splint.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ORAL CARE
The splint is something we recommend for all athletes. However, we must not forget to take care of our mouth every day. We are going to give you only 2 recommendations and yes, they are few, but if you follow them you will soon notice changes in your mouth. Here they go!
- HYDRATE YOURSELF
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, but in sports it becomes much more important. When we exercise, our mouths dry out and therefore we run out of saliva, this means that we cannot defend ourselves against cavities. The saliva, thanks to the water, dilutes and eliminates the sugar.
- YOUR FOOD IS PRIMARY
Too high a consumption of carbohydrates is not only detrimental to our body, but also to our dental health. These contain starch, which dissolves in sugar, which attacks and weakens the teeth. If you are going to play sports and need carbohydrates, then take your oral hygiene into account.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
- WHAT IS A SHOCKING SPLINT?
The discharge splint acts as a dental protector, protecting our teeth from strong pressure when biting, avoiding wear on the enamel. It is what is used in cases of bruxism.
- HOW MUCH DOES AN UNLOADING SPINT COST?
In Spain, a splint made to measure in a dental clinic usually costs between 200 and 400 euros.
- HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A SHOCKING SPLINT?
Normally if you suffer from bruxism you will realize it because you will wake up with jaw pain, it will be difficult for you to open your mouth and you will bite badly.
- WHERE TO BUY AN UNLOADING SPINT?
Although you can buy splints on the market in sports stores, we do not recommend it. They're a quick fix, but they won't be comfortable and won't protect you adequately. The best thing is that you go to a dental clinic and they make you a custom splint, according to your mouth.
- HOW DO I PUT ON AN UNLOADING SPLINT?
There are two types of splints: some are placed on only one dental arch (unimaxillary) and others are placed on both dental arches (bimaxillary).
- DOES THE UNLOADING SPLINT AFFECT SPORTS PERFORMANCE?
Sometimes in sports we pay a lot of attention to the muscles and forget about dental health. Poor dental health can lead to muscle injuries, respiratory, joint and cardiovascular problems. Thanks to the unloading splint, you get greater muscle power, and an improvement in balance and strength.
- IN WHICH SPORTS SHOULD AN UNLOADING SPLINT BE USED?
There are sports in which it is mandatory to wear a splint, such as boxing, rugby, baseball... since there is a very high risk of suffering some trauma. However, the use of the discharge splint is recommended in any sport, since it contributes to a better physical performance.