Six Reasons Your Child Needs a Sports Mouth Guard
The American Dental Association estimates that athletes who don't wear mouthguards are sixty times more likely to suffer dental injury than those who do.
The use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 injuries to the mouth each year. That’s why I highly recommend mouth guards for my pediatric dentistry patients.
Over 25 percent of dental injuries we treat in our Upper East Side children’s dentistry practice are sports-related. And the majority of these involve the top front teeth.
Mouthguards typically cover the upper teeth and also protect the soft tissues of the tongue, lips and cheek lining.
I consider wearing a mouthguard mandatory in contact and collision sports like football, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling, basketball, hockey, and soccer.
A mouthguard can also prevent injury in non-contact sports, such as bicycling, skating, skateboarding and gymnastics. Hits to the face in those sports may be accidental, but they are just as damaging.
How prevalent are sports-related dental injuries? In 2012, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation forecast that more than three million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events that year!
Without a mouthguard, common injuries include chipped or broken teeth, root damage, fractured crowns or loss of an entire tooth or teeth, lip and cheek injuries, fractured jaws, and concussions.
Advantages of mouth guards
Mouth guards help cushion a blow to the face. They limit the risk of injuries to the lips, tongue and jaw. And they help avoid broken or chipped teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or loss of a tooth.
While a mouth guard won't prevent a concussion, a study in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry (the clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry) shows they can reduce the severity of the injury.
A mouth guard will also keep braces from injuring gums and cheeks, and protect the braces.
Mouth guards acts like a crash helmet that protects the jawbone from an unexpected fracture.
Mouth guards are far less expensive than dental repairs. Our goal is to keep your child’s teeth perfect, forever. That’s why a good mouthguard is one of the best investments you can make in sports equipment.
Mouthguards are easy to maintain.
There are essentially three types of mouth guards:
Off the shelf, prefabricated oral appliances are available in sporting goods stores and drugstores. They come ready-to-wear in a limited number of sizes, and are the least costly. A stock mouth guard cannot be adjusted, may fit poorly, and is bulky.
A stock mouth guard is held in place by clenching the teeth together. That can make it difficult to breathe and interferes with speaking. A stock mouth guard is not recommended by dentists.
Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards are readily available in sporting goods stores and can offer a better fit than the stock mouth guard. The boil-and-bite mouth guard is made of a thermoplastic material. These are better, but, by design, still bulky and not custom fitted. After softening in hot water, it’s inserted into the mouth and shaped around the upper teeth by applying biting, tongue and finger pressure.
Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards are individually made to fit your child’s mouth. I recommend custom-fitted mouth guards exclusively for my pediatric dentistry patients because:
The custom-fitted mouth guards we create are comfortable
They provide maximum protection
They do not interfere with breathing or speaking
We match the mouth guard to the specific sport played and the patient’s history of dental injury
A custom-fitted mouth guard can even be worn with braces
And they can be made in a variety of colors.
Please feel free to discuss a custom-made mouthguard for your active child.