MOUTHGUARDS

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Four Reasons Selling Mouthguards Makes Sense for Retailers.

Sisu Mouthguards

Now undefinedequal parts protective equipment and fashion statement, mouthguards are a staple of team sports ranging from football, wrestling and hockey – where they are mandatory in most competitions – to soccer and basketball, where both the performance and safety aspects are catching on.

Retailers are noticing the trend and are devoting more and more shelf space to the increasingly diverse and targeted selection from a host of major manufacturers. There are, essentially, four reasons why this commitment to what is essentially a piece of protective equipment makes sense for sporting goods stores.

1. The Safety Factor

Mouthguards are, first and foremost, a safety item — and that should make them an easy sell. Mouthguards are, in many cases, part of the required equipment. If retailers sell any protective equipment, they should also sell mouthguards.

“The reasons are reflected in safety and necessity, but also on the premise that providing better products that allow a player to speak and breathe easily and play with confidence, can be profitable,” explains Jay Turkbas. SVP-product development for United Sports Brands/Shock Doctor.

“[Retailers] should point to the fact that there are one million dental injuries in sports every year,” adds Sassa Akervall, CEO of Sisu Mouthguards. “Protecting your teeth is every bit as important as protecting your shins or head.”

2. The Cost of Losing a Tooth

Losing a tooth is an expensive long-term proposition. Short-term oral abrasions or cuts are painful. Any oral injury keeps you out of the game

“It can’t be stressed enough the pain, not to mention the cost involved, in fixing a broken tooth,” says Akervall.

“Mouthguards are becoming an essential part of sports and while they are not required, they have many benefits,” agrees Jessica Gore, founder and president of Tasty Clean, which markets a cleaning solution for mouthguards. “Hundreds of thousands of mouth injuries are prevented each year due to mouthguards, but, according to the ADA, only about 26 percent of children wear them.”

3. A Fashion Statement?

In recent seasons, thanks to designs from the major manufacturers this unassuming piece of equipment has become a bit of a fashion and style statement. “The latest sales pitch trends are all about graphics and representing your personal style,” says Shock Doctor’s Turkbas. In football, especially, lip guards now provide a platform to showcase graphics, messages and forms that allow players to express themselves.”

“Focusing on the rising trend of athlete individualization, dealers can bring in lip guards and mouthguards that not only protect, but have graphics and colors that allow athletes to represent their style and make a statement,” he adds.

4. Gotta Wear ’Em

Mouthguards have long been mandatory for play in contact sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling, but the great opportunity now lies in basketball and soccer — and to a lesser extent baseball and softball.

“We are hoping that mandatory mouthguards for basketball and soccer will become a reality in the near future because we see a rising number of injuries in these sports,” points out Sisu’s Akervall. She would like to see the entire sports industry get behind the effort. “It really takes a village,” she says. “We need to come together as an industry to impact these decisions.”

“Football, hockey, wrestling and lacrosse pose a high risk of injury to the jaw or teeth,” points out Tasty Clean’s Gore. But, she adds, the same painful and potentially expensive injuries can be minimized or even prevented in sports beyond those where it is mandated “by simply wearing a guard.”

Shock Doctor

Mouthguards DO NOT Prevent Concussions

There is absolutely no research that shows that mouthguards, while certainly providing tooth, lip and jaw protection, help to prevent concussions. As one industry executive says, it’s like putting on shinguards and hoping you won’t break an arm.

Never, ever, at any time, use the “C” word when selling mouthguards.

“Some folks may still believe there is a connection,” admits Shock Doctor’s Jay Turkbas. “However, the research data on concussion and prevention don’t support that belief. We encourage all retailers not to use this as a rationale because there is no statistical data to support it.” Sassa Akervall is even more succinct. “Mouthguards cannot protect against concussion,” the Sisu Mouthguards exec stresses. “It is extremely hard to protect your brain from any damage directed to your head. Mouthguards certainly will not help. We work tirelessly to try to educate our consumers on this fact and [retailers] also need to be highly educated on this topic and embrace the data that is out.”

Sisu Mouthguards

4 KEY TRENDS

1. Graphics and lip guards for football are prominent.

2. For on-the-run sports such as lacrosse or ice hockey, lower-profile mouthguards with minimal exposure and tight fit that allow for easier speaking and breathing are the most important.

3. There is a trend towards multiple purchases — for practice and game-days, in particular.

4. Wearable technology, in the form of sensors, is making a move in mouthguards. Companies are adding sensor technology with a microchip embedded in a mouthguard to helps understand how many hits an athlete endures.

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