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do all NBA players wear mouthguards

Protecting Their Teeth: Do All NBA Players Wear Mouthguards?

How often have you wondered why NBA players wear mouthguards? Almost every time you watch them dribble and dunk on the court, you notice these small devices sitting snugly in their mouths. The questions that keep popping up are: “Do all NBA players wear mouthguards?” and “Why do NBA players wear mouthguards?”
Through this article, we aim to shed light on this query and the broader aspect of dental protection in the world of sports, especially in the NBA.

What Are Mouthguards?

In order to prevent and lessen damage to the teeth, arches, lips, and gums, mouthguards are devices that cover the teeth and gums. They are typically used in sports or activities where there is a significant chance of facial injuries. There are three types of mouthguards – ready-made or stock, mouth-formed “boil-and-bite,” and custom-made mouthguards from a dentist.

Their primary function is to absorb impact and reduce the possibility of fractured teeth and harm to the oral soft tissues.

Do Basketball Players Wear Mouthguards?

Not all basketball players wear mouthguards, but many of the big names on the court, like Lebron James or Blake Griffin, recognize their benefits and have made them an essential part of their game gear. These superstar athletes know all too well the prevalence of broken teeth and facial injuries in NBA matches.

Mouthguards act as protective gear for teeth, lips, and gums from impact during the game, making them an increasingly popular protective measure against oral injuries.

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Mouthguards?

Protection Against Dental Trauma

Mouthguards are specially designed to provide a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. In the fast-paced world of basketball, collisions are expected. Protecting the teeth minimizes the probability of dental injuries like fractured teeth, which can lead to complex procedures like root canals or even tooth loss.

Decreases Risk of Concussions

Mouthguards essentially create a cushion that distributes the force from an impact more evenly across the entire mouth. This decreases pressure on individual locations, which could otherwise cause a concussion or other head injury. This safety equipment is crucial, especially in a sport known for its physical contact.

Prevents Soft Tissue Injuries

In addition to protecting the teeth, mouthguards help shield the inner soft tissues of the mouth, like the gums, inner cheeks, lips, and tongue, from biting injuries that can happen during intense games. They act as a shock absorber, which lowers the chance of soft tissue damage during a high-impact event.

Protects Orthodontic Appliances

Players with braces or other orthodontic appliances can also protect these devices from sustaining damage like broken brackets or wires. This saves players from the pain of injury and the inconvenience and cost of repairing orthodontic appliances.

Saves on Medical Costs

By guarding against these potential injuries, mouthguards can potentially save players hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in medical or dental bills. It’s a small investment that can prevent big expenses down the line.

Enhances Confidence

The knowledge that they’re protected can allow athletes to play more confidently and aggressively without fearing oral injuries. This mental security may boost their overall performance on the court.

Reduces Time Away From The Game

Players who wear mouthguards are less likely to need significant recovery time following a hit or fall. This translates to fewer interruptions in their playing season and a better chance to build skill and experience.

What Are the Common Dental Injuries in Basketball?

  • Broken Teeth. This is one of the most common dental injuries in basketball. It can happen when a player gets a direct blow to the face from an elbow, basketball, or even another player’s head.
  • Dislodged Teeth. Also known as avulsed teeth, these injuries occur when the tooth is knocked out of its socket. This can warrant immediate medical attention as it might damage the surrounding nerves and tissues.
  • Tooth Fracture. A fractured tooth can result from a high-speed collision. It might require complex dental procedures or even extraction, depending on its severity.
  • Jaw Fracture or Dislocation. Sometimes, the force of an impact can be so intense that it may lead to jaw fractures or dislocation. These injuries can be quite severe and may require surgical intervention.
  • Facial Cuts. Most basketball players have experienced some form of facial cuts due to accidental collisions with players or the ball. These can result in severe bleeding and may require stitches.
  • Gum and Soft Tissue Injuries. Gum lacerations and other soft tissue injuries are common and can cause significant discomfort while eating or speaking. These types of injuries often require immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Mouthguard

Custom Fit

Basketball players often opt for custom-fitted mouthguards compared to football players, who may opt for generic boil-and-bite mouthguards. These mouthguards are crafted based on the individual’s dental structure, providing maximum comfort and protection, which makes them a popular choice among college basketball players.


When choosing a mouthguard for basketball, the material is of utter importance. A basketball mouthguard should be sufficiently durable to withstand the impacts while being soft enough to provide comfort. Hence, a mouthguard made of thermoplastic material, which is both flexible and durable, is preferred.

Proper Ventilation

One aspect often overlooked while buying mouthguards is the necessity of proper ventilation. A good quality mouthguard in basketball should allow for proper breathing, especially during intense play. Therefore, selecting a mouthguard designed to enable easier breathing is a must.


Since mouthguards in basketball are prone to accumulating bacteria and dirt, they must be easy to clean. Therefore, a mouthguard made of a material that is easy to clean and dry is ideal for maintaining good oral hygiene.


The comfort of wearing a mouthguard is crucial. A properly fitted mouthguard won’t hinder speech or breathing, thus allowing players to communicate effectively on the court. College basketball players often emphasize comfort when choosing their mouthguards to ensure it doesn’t distract them during the game.

Dentist’s Advice

Dentists can provide invaluable advice when choosing a mouthguard, making their input invaluable. They can guide the right fit, material, and design based on the individual’s needs and help ensure maximum protection and comfort.

Comprehensive Protection for Your Teeth: Find Your Ideal Mouthguard Now

While not all NBA players wear mouthguards, these essential pieces of equipment offer protection against oral injuries on the basketball court. At our dental practice in Markham, we understand the importance of maintaining a healthy smile, especially for athletes exposed to potential risks during sports activities. Contact our office today to learn how we can help you protect your teeth and ensure optimal oral health for years.

Remember, when it comes to safeguarding your smile, prevention is key. Don’t wait until an injury occurs—take proactive steps to protect your teeth with a high-quality mouthguard. Your smile deserves the best care, both on and off the court.

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