Mouth guards for dental protection are an integral piece of equipment to keep children safe from dental injury during sports or other recreational activities. Sports-related injuries constitute up to 39% of all dental trauma in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Reports show that athletes are 60% more likely to suffer a dental injury when not utilizing a mouth guard. With proper protective gear, the rate of occurrence and severity of dental injuries can be greatly reduced. Fitting for a custom mouth guard is one of the dental services Dr. Lalani provides at Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Frisco.
Mouth guards can help reduce dental injury by:
- Cushioning blows to the face
- Lowering probability of broken, chipped, or knocked out teeth (avulsion)
- Minimizing injuries to lips, tongue, and jaw
- Protecting soft tissues of the cheek lining
Who Should Use a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards are recommended for any child who plays contact sports, however, many non-contact sports have potential for dental injury, as well.
Mouth guards can be a beneficial protective measure for:
The most common teeth that are injured in children are the upper (maxillary) front teeth. For this reason, children with an excessive overjet (upper top teeth that lean or tilt outward) are at higher risk for sports-related dental injuries.
Dental injuries in children can cause significant pain, as well as involve a great deal of inconvenience and money. It is common for dental trauma in children to require urgent care, especially in cases of tooth avulsion where the tooth is completely knocked out. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, long-term treatment for a permanent tooth avulsion can range from $5,000 – $20,000.
Numerous dental appointments over the course of dental trauma treatment can require school absences for students and missed work for parents. Taking the precaution to wear a mouth guard for sports can save your family much time and money while avoiding the pain and inconvenience involved with a dental injury.
Types of Mouth Guards for Sports
There are several types of mouth guards for sports available. Mouth guards need to fit properly in the mouth in order to be comfortable and work effectively.
The AAPD states that mouth guards should:
- Absorb and dissipate impact energy
- Protect teeth from fractures, avulsions, and luxation (tooth displacement)
- Protect lips and mouth tissues from lacerations and bruising
- Support the open space of the mouth (edentulous space)
- Protect the jaw from dislocations and fractures
It may be helpful to keep these characteristics in mind when choosing an appropriate mouth guard for your child.
Types of mouth guards include:
- Stock mouth guards: These ready-made mouth guards are the least expensive option available. Because they are pre-formed, stock mouth guards are often ill-fitting, which can feel bulky and less comfortable to the wearer. Some athletes report difficulty speaking and/or breathing while wearing this type of mouth guard. Stock mouth guards typically provide less protection than other types of mouth guards because of their poor fit and the reluctance of children to wear them due to discomfort.
- Boil-and-bite mouth guards: These moldable mouth guards are widely available at most sporting goods stores and even some drugstores. By softening these mouth guards in boiling water, they can be molded to the shape of the wearer’s mouth and teeth by biting down. This creates a more fitted option which is more comfortable and provides better protection than stock mouth guards. Be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance if you are purchasing a boil-and-bite mouth guard.
- Custom-made mouth guards: Your pediatric dentist can create a custom-fitted mouth guard made specifically for your child. These mouth guards are typically more expensive due to the state-of-the-art technique and expertise required to design each individualized mouth guard. They provide significantly more protection and comfort than other mouth guards due to their customized fit. And your child can choose the color!
When choosing a mouth guard for your child, be sure to purchase one that:
- Offers superior protection
- Fits properly
- Is comfortable
- Is tear-resistant and resilient
- Does not restrict breathing or talking
- Is easy to keep clean
Caring for Your Mouth Guard
Caring for your mouth guard will involve keeping it as clean as possible.
Mouth guard care tips include:
- Rinse your mouth guard in cold water, a mouth rinse, or brush it with mild soap and a toothbrush before and after each use.
- Store and transport your mouth guard in a sturdy container that allows air circulation to prevent bacteria growth. Acrylic mouth guards should be stored in fresh, clean water.
- Do not leave your mouth guard in the sun or in hot water for extended periods of time, as its shape could become distorted.
- Regularly check your mouth guard for wear-and-tear. If holes or tears occur, or if your mouth guard begins to become loose, you should replace it.
- Bring your mouth guard to every regularly scheduled dental visit for examination.
- Keep your mouth guard away from pets who may damage it.
If your child plays sports or exhibits the common signs of bruxism, it’s important to bring them to our dentist to be fitted for a custom mouth guard. Please contact Dr. Zarmin Lalani and her team at Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry Frisco, Texas, by completing an online appointment request or phone 469-365-5437.