I have lost count of the number of times I have heard a story on why an adult patient’s front teeth are either missing or were fractured during their childhood years. Majority of the time it was because they had a traumatic mouth injury while playing a sport they loved as a young kid. As we observe National Youth Sports week, I will highlight why a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear for any youth participating in organized sports.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard or mouth protector is an appliance that fits over your teeth to minimize the risk of broken teeth and injury to the soft tissues by buffering an impact or blow to the mouth.
What Kind of Mouth Guard Works Best?
There are different types of mouth guards available on the market. Custom-made by your dentist is your best option. I have listed three different types of mouthguards you can choose from.
- Made by a dentist
- Customized to fit your teeth
- Although they are the most expensive, they provide the best fit and most advanced protection
- Boil and bite
- Can be purchased at any store or pharmacy
- More cost efficient than the custom-made mouthguard
- Comes as a U-shaped material and must be softened by boiling it in water. It is molded to fit your teeth once you bite on the softened material
- Pre-formed ready to wear guards
- Inexpensive, but they do not fit well
- Can be bulky and may make breathing and talking difficult
Whatever mouthguard is used, please ensure that it is tear-resistant, comfortable and fits properly, easy to clean, and does not restrict speech or breathing.
Which sport should your child wear a mouthguard?
Most commonly, mouthguards are used in heavy contact sports, such as boxing, football, hockey, and lacrosse. However, it is now being shown that mouthguards help prevent injuries in noncontact sports like basketball, gymnastics, or skateboarding. Regardless, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear for any youth participating sports.
How to do you take care of a mouthguard?
- Rinse before and after each use
- Clean with mild soap and cold water. Rinse well and make sure it is dry
- Store in a well-ventilated case
- Check often for tears and wear. Replace when there are signs of wear.
- Bring the mouthguard to your regular dental checkups so that it can be evaluated by your dentist.
- Do not leave the mouthguard in the sun or hot water
Because their mouth is still growing, kids may have to change their mouthguard often. The high cost of repairing sports related dental injuries makes investing in a mouthguard worthwhile. Remember these should be worn during practice and games.