Over the years, kids who participated in sports have grown steadily. With this growth in participation, injury incidents have also increased. Knee pads, elbow guards and helmets are important for kids playing sports, but mouthguards are overlooked.
According to the American Dental Association, sports have reported over 30% of unintentional injuries to kids and adolescents, with 10%-20% being maxillofacial injuries. National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety also reported that the most common injury is dental injury. An athlete will very likely sustain teeth damage when not wearing a mouthguard.
Is Mouthguard Good for Kids?
Dental injuries during sports can be prevented. It is recommended to wear mouthguards during sports where collision, impact and contact likely occur. Different types of mouthguards are available; talk to an orthodontist in Sydney, Australia, to know what best suits your kid.
A mouthguard’s protection helps your kid athlete perform without distraction and worry of a possible injury. It helps protect your kid’s teeth, gums and dental appliances (if they are wearing one), as some mouthguards have specific features that protect orthodontic treatments like bridges or braces.
How Sports Mouthguards Work
Mouthguards are placed over the top of the upper teeth to prevent injuries during training or competition. It includes preventing having broken teeth, cut lips and damage to gums, tongue or mouth.
Mouthguards push the upper jaw forward, creating a barrier that prevents the collision of the lower and upper jaw in case of impact. It also creates a gap between the cheeks and gums and functions as a shock absorber that absorbs impact and redistributes it in a bigger area.
Choosing the Right Sports Mouthguard for Your Child
When choosing the right sports mouthguard for your kid, there are certain factors you should consider to ensure safety and comfort.
Select the Right Mouthguard
There are types of sports mouthguards – stock, mouth-formed and custom-made. These vary in price and comfort but provide the same protection.
- Stock sports mouthguards are pre-formed but cannot be reshaped. It is the most economical option available, but you may encounter problems with fit, breathing and speaking when using it.
- Mouth-formed or boil-and-bite sports mouthguards are also pre-formed like stock ones. However, it can be customizingly fit an athlete by boiling it, making it soft and pliable. The athlete can then bite it to reshape it for a customised fit. It may be a better option than stocks, but it may still fall short when it comes to fitting compared to a custom-made one by a dentist.
- Custom-made sports mouthguards are obtained from dentists or a dental laboratory. These are made from the impression of the athlete’s teeth for a perfect fit and comfort. As they are custom-made, they are the most expensive among the three types.
Custom-made mouthguards last for several years before needing to be replaced, while pre-formed mouthguards should be replaced frequently.
Consider the Type of Sports
Different sports require different protection levels and impact resistance. Choose one that will provide the best level of protection without compromising breathing and speaking, as they are important when playing sports.
Ensure Proper Fit of Mouthguard
The mouthguard should be properly fitted to ensure maximum protection. It should be comfortable over your child’s teeth and gums with no sign of irritation, pain or excessive movement when speaking and breathing.
Seek Professional Advice
It is best to seek professional advice when selecting your child’s sports mouthguard. They can provide you with accurate recommendations for your child’s needs.
How Sports Mouthguards Protect Your Child’s Teeth
1. The Role of Sports Mouthguards in Preventing Dental Injury
Mouthguards absorb and distribute impact to lessen the blow. The impact can damage your child’s jaw, resulting in dental injury when not wearing a mouthguard.
2. The Role of Sports Mouthguards in Preventing Tooth Loss
Sports mouthguards absorb the shock of a blow to your child’s teeth, minimising trauma and protecting tooth structure from breaking and loosening. It can even stop a tooth from being knocked out completely.
3. The Role of Sports Mouthguards in Protecting Dental Restorations
If your child has braces, crowns, bridges, or implants, they are more at risk of injury if they are hit in the face without a mouthguard. Sports mouthguards prevent damage to these restorations and lessen the likelihood of injury.
4. Sports Mouthguards Can Also Offer Psychological Benefits
Besides the obvious physical benefits of wearing a mouthguard, it can also give your child an added sense of security while playing their sport. Knowing they have that extra level of protection can help them stay more focused and enjoy their sporting activity without worrying about injury.
How to Care for Sports Mouthguard
Even with good oral hygiene, the mouth is ideal for bacteria. Mouthguards do not only get them from your mouth; they can also develop some when not cleaned properly. Here are some ways of caring for your sports mouthguard.
- Brush and floss before putting on a mouthguard.
- Make sure the mouthguard is clean
- Wash it in warm, soapy water
- Rinse it with cool water before and after every use
- You can also brush the mouthguard with toothpaste and a toothbrush
- Don’t expose it to extreme heat, as it can warp the shape of the mouthguard, and it will no longer fit.
- Kids need to frequently change mouthguards to accommodate their still-growing teeth.
- Replace the mouthguard every season as it wears out over time.
Using a sports mouthguard is important to your child’s safety while playing any sport. It can help protect your kid’s teeth, gums and dental restorations from injuries caused by impact or blows to the face. Make sure to choose the right type of mouthguard for your kid’s needs, get it properly fitted by your kid’s orthodontist and maintain its proper care and hygiene. Doing so will help ensure your child stays safe while playing their favourite sport.