In a basketball game, where elbows are swinging around out to "decapitate" heads, and knees are flying high, up above anyone’s eyes — a mouth guard is a player’s best, and only, protection from having to deal with missing teeth. As the years have gone by, we can see how mouth guard use has grown in the NBA. Back in the 80s and 90s, there weren’t many professional players who used mouth guards. Today, however, as we see the TV cameras focus on players like LeBron James and Steph Curry in between plays, we get to watch as they chew on their mouth guards, relaxed and breathing.
Dealing with Missing Teeth
Mouth guards serve as a protective covering over the teeth. It helps in preventing injuries and teeth grinding in contact sports. Walking off the court with missing teeth is a problem most professional basketball players have to deal with.
Northlightdental.co.uk talks about the possible effects of missing teeth, describing how it can affect a person’s confidence and facial aesthetics. It can cause any person to be conscious of talking, eating and smiling — making it difficult to be a normal and social person. What more if one were to appear on national television, right?
On Using Mouth Guards
Goran Dragic, a scoring guard for the Miami Heat, discusses his experience of losing a tooth during the 2016 NBA playoffs. In their playoff series against Detroit, Dragic has had a tooth knocked out, prompting him to consider using a mouth guard for future games. He immediately had his tooth replaced as soon as the team returned to South Florida, saying that he wants to look good and smile on TV.
Having played the sport of basketball for almost all of his life, Dragic has lost at least five teeth while balling. Despite this, he never really liked using a mouth guard because he finds it difficult to breathe. He says that he can’t guarantee he’ll wear it the whole game.
On the other hand, Mason Plumlee, a power forward for the Portland Trailblazers, never plays or practises without a mouth guard on. Citing an incident during his junior year at Duke wherein he took a shot to the mouth and had to undergo four root canals and wear braces, he’s been more conscious of protecting his teeth.
With more players sporting mouth guards in the NBA, a trend is being made as players in both the pro and amateur ranks are becoming cautious — not only in basketball but in other sports as well.