Olympic Snowboarders Go for the Gold…Mouthguard!

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Plenty of people were cheering at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea this week when U.S. snowboarders Chloe Kim and Areille Gold captured the Gold and Bronze medals in the women’s halfpipe event. Kim’s routine was virtually flawless, while Gold’s come-from-behind third run was a thrill. It was also great to see Gold putting in her mouthguard before every ride.

How important is that mouthguard? The 21-year-old athlete from Steamboat Springs, Colorado recently said it’s one of the three things she never leaves behind for a competition. (The others are headphones and a water bottle.) What’s more, as viewers could clearly see, the mouthguard she wore for the half-pipe runs had something special about it: It was colored bright gold.

Maybe that color was a tribute to her own name—or to her Olympic dreams. Either way, it’s a reminder to fans everywhere that while winter sports like skiing, riding and sledding are great exercise and lots of fun, they also have the potential to cause injury, including damage to the teeth, face and mouth. So just like a helmet, a mouthguard should be part of every skier and rider’s gear.

What’s the best kind of mouthguard? It’s the one you feel comfortable wearing all the time. A custom-made mouthguard offers the greatest comfort and the best protection against injury. Your family dentist can provide one that’s made from an exact model of your mouth, so it fits just right. And the cost of a custom-made mouthguard is less than the cost of treating even a relatively minor dental injury when you include the time lost from work or school.

Even seasoned pros aren’t immune from accidents—as another competitor at the halfpipe event proved. Australian snowboarder Emily Arthur had problems landing a jump in her third run, and fell face-first into the packed snow. When she got up her face was bleeding, and she complained of sore teeth. Fortunately she received prompt attention, and later joined her family to watch the day’s remaining events.

Whether you’re shredding the local slopes or throwing down huge tricks at the Olympics, remember that injuries can happen to anyone at any time. That’s why it’s vital to wear protective gear like a helmet and a custom-made mouthguard whenever you’re on the snow.

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