More basketball players—at all levels—are realizing the benefits
of a mouth guard. Some learn the hard way.
Barrett Pierce plays the hard-nosed style of basketball that coaches love to see. So the 17-year-old did not think twice when diving headfirst for the ball near center court in the final minutes of a crucial league game for Brentwood School in Los Angeles.
But Pierce’s aggressiveness cost him when a player from the opposing team dove for the same ball, driving Pierce’s head into the hardwood. When Pierce came to, he had a bloody mouth and his two front teeth were on the court in front of him.
Had Pierce been using a mouth guard, it might have saved his teeth.
“I dive for loose balls all the time; it’s almost second nature” says Pierce, whose accident occurred last season. “This time, I was unlucky and lost my two front teeth.” Now, he says, he wears a mouth guard “whenever I play, even if it is a pick-up game at the park.”
Spectators and players haven’t always considered basketball to be the type of sport that requires any type of extra pads or protection, but an increasing number of high school, college and professional players are choosing to wear mouth guards, thanks to a push from some sports dentists and advances in technology that have made it easier to produce comfortable custom-fit models.