With a new school year right around the corner, we all know what that means; sports! Before your child starts a new season, now is a great time to learn about mouth guards and the importance they play in your child’s active lifestyle. Did you know that dentists recommend mouth guards for both high impact sports and non-contact or recreational sports alike? This includes everything from basketball, football, lacrosse, rugby and even sports like gymnastics, skateboarding and mountain climbing. The importance of a guard seems evident and here’s why. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented each year by wearing a mouthguard. They can help prevent chipped and broken teeth, fractured roots, cut lips and damage to orthodontic appliances like braces. It can even help redistribute forces from a blow to the head. While a mouth guard can’t prevent a concussion, it can help minimize the risk of a traumatic brain injury. There are three different kinds of mouthguards you should know about.
- Stock mouth guard – This is usually a low cost premolded guard you can find in your local sports store. Although these are generally cheaper, they are usually less comfortable to the athlete because it’s harder to find a perfect fit.
- Boil and Bite – This one is made from a thermoplastic material. You place the guard in hot water to soften the material and then place it in the mouth shaping it around the teeth using your fingers or tongue. This usually gives a better fit than a stock guard and can also be found at your local sports store.
- Custom fit – These come highly recommended as they are made to specifically fit your child’s mouth. Your dentist will make an impression of your child’s teeth, then the guard is made using this mold. Although these tend to be the most expensive, they are also most liked by athletes because they provide the best fit, comfort and protection.
Consult with your pediatric dentist to determine which would be the best fit for your child. No matter the sport your child plays, you’ll want a mouth guard that fits well, resist tears, is durable and should not restrict your child’s breathing or speech. It should also be easy to clean and a priority after every game. Simply put, running water over the guard isn’t enough to make it clean. We recommend brushing it with a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove any built-up bacteria, then rinsing it with soapy water. You should also store it in a protective case with proper ventilation so the guard can stay dry and prevent regrowth of bacteria. Equally as important is knowing when to replace your child’s mouth guard. It starts off sleek and smooth but with heavy use, can develop tears and cracks which could make them less effective over time. It’s always a good idea to take your child’s guard with you to their six-month dental check-up so your dentist can determine if it’s time for a replacement.
For more information regarding mouthguards, call our trusted board certified pediatric dentists at Cammarata Pediatric Dentistry Group at 713-666-7884. Cammarata Pediatric Dentistry Group has been providing ethical and comprehensive pediatric dental care to the families of West University and Bellaire for generations.