In this time of travel teams, swing instructors and sports psychologists, few parents think twice about dropping a couple hundred dollars to keep their kid suited up in the latest cleats, skates and gear. A recent study by TurboTax estimated that the average parent spends $671 per year to cover the costs of organized sports. Yet for all of the money invested in gear, far too many young athletes are using mouthguards that provide little or no protection. The best—and some would say only—option is a custom fitted sports mouthguard. The key to getting everyone onboard, from proud parents to weekend warriors, is to frame the appliance as an essential piece of equipment. Because it is.
“Approximately 20 million children participate in various sports programs in the United States and another 80 million are involved in unsupervised recreational sports,” says Anthony Vigliotti, Product Manager at DENTSPLY Raintree Essix Division. “It’s not just the youth market. A 2012 study commissioned by ESPN estimates that over 205 million Americans are involved in some form of sport, and over 94 million are ‘active to a healthy level.’ With activity comes accidents. According to the consumer-oriented publication Dear Doctor – Dentistry & Oral Health Magazine “dental injuries to children treated in United States emergency rooms between 1990-2003 indicated that: An average of 22,000 dental injuries annually occurred among children less than 18 years of age”. Even in non-contact sports, players collide, they fall, they get hit with balls, pucks, sticks and bats. According to the Dear Doctor, “Of all sports, baseball and basketball were associated with the largest number of dental injuries”.
DENTSPLY’s TekFit™ custom appliance fabrication program lets the practice fabricate lab-quality appliances right in the practice. They provide all the reliability of Essix® and Dreve Plastics combined with the performance of the Drufomat Scan pressure thermoforming machine. No other custom sports mouthguard fabrication system can match the TekFit combination of precision fit, function and performance. Available free of charge on the Apple store, a new TekFit app lets the practice (or patient) design and share the mouthguard right from their phone or tablet. Users can pick their favorite color of plastic and then customize it by adding their own text or images.
Some might ask “why should a specialist like an orthodontist focus their energies on sports mouthguard fabrication?” But the better question might be “why haven’t they already done so?”
As an orthodontist you are a highly trained specialist whose goal is to help patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health. The majority of orthodontic patients are in the target age range and come from families who are unafraid to make a financial commitment to their children. Finally, the patient often sees the orthodontist as an ally of sorts. This provides the orthodontist with a tremendous home field advantage from which to offer this service.
The dental practice’s business model is shifting away from what orthodontists have been accustomed to. Competition is greater than ever and this is a great way to expand your scope-of-services. Not only will it give you a point of differentiation from other practices, but it can help offset some of the revenue lost from competition. Best of all, with the TekFit system all of the fabrication of a sports mouthguard can be performed with little or no doctor involvement.
Not many people are better informed on the topic of sports mouthguards than Dr. Ray Padilla. An international lecturer on dental trauma treatment and injury prevention, he is the team dentist for three high-profile teams in California. He says TekFit sports mouthguards offer a great combination of benefits. “Would you run in shoes that are excessively large? Or would you run in work boots? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you expect a generic or over-the-counter mouthguard to function as a custom-fabricated, precision-fitted appliance? Custom mouthguards work because they fit and they’re comfortable. That’s a big reason why compliance (with a custom appliance) is so high. An athlete is not going to wear something that doesn’t fit.”
TekFit appliance fabrication makes it easy for you to offer your patients a wide selection of sports mouthguards, without a large investment in equipment, inventory or staff training. It includes a full range of options for low, medium and high-contact sports, as well as optional straps and cases. Patients can personalize their sports mouthguard with team/player name, number and logo.
TekFit sports mouthguards are made in-office using a Drufomat Scan pressure thermoforming machine. Unlike some pressure machines that flip the plastic over, thus angling the material over the model, the Drufomat drops it straight down, helping to assure an appliance with consistent thickness. It uses pre-programmed barcode scanning and an intuitive keypad to make the process all but foolproof for almost any skill level within your practice. With the Drufomat Scan, you get state-of-the-art technology, hands-on control, quick turnaround times and low out-of-pocket expenses for each of the patients you treat.
1Dental Traumatology 2002; 18: 329–334
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