Mouth Guards: Protecting Your Child’s Smile In Sports

Parents and coaches understand the importance of wearing safety gear like helmets, pads and cleats during sports. Soccer players don’t step on the field without shin guards; hockey players would never play without their face masks; and helmets are a must for anyone playing a football game. Unfortunate-ly, mouth guards for sports are often overlooked as part of the important safety equipment in the pre-vention of sports-related injuries.

Why is a mouth guard for sports important?

When placed over the teeth during a sporting event, a mouth guard can soften a hard blow to the mouth caused by a fall, another athlete, a stick or a ball. This reduces a child’s risk of injury to the teeth, bones, and soft tissues in the mouth.

Athletic mouth guards can prevent many oral injuries including:

  • Knocked out or loosened teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Injury to the nerve of a tooth
  • Cheek, lip and tongue injuries
  • Fractured jaw or bones

When should my child wear a mouth guard?

Oral injuries are painful, expensive and can have long-term effects on your child’s smile. It is much easier to prevent injury to the mouth and teeth by wearing a mouth guard, than treating an injury after it has occurred. For this reason, it is recommended that mouth guards are worn whenever children are playing a sport in which they may come into contact with other participants, objects or hard surfaces. These sports include, but not limited to basketball, football, soccer, wrestling, hockey, skateboarding and bicy-cling. Even non-contact sport participants, like gymnasts, can sustain an oral injury and can benefit from mouth protection.

What types of mouth guards for kids’ sports are available?

Athletic mouth guards are made of soft, flexible plastic and are placed over the upper teeth. When it comes to choosing a mouth guard, athletes have a few options:

  • Stock mouth guards: This ready-made mouth guard offers a generic fit and can be found in most sporting good stores. Because stock mouth guards usually come in one standard size, they offer limited comfort and protection.
  • Boil-and-bite mouth guards: These mouth guards can also be found at most sport stores, but unlike stock pieces, usually offer a better fit. To set the mouth guard, hot water is used to soften the plastic. Your child then bites into the guard, molding it to his or her teeth.
  • Customized mouth guards: Custom-made mouth guards offer the best protection and are cre-ated right in your dentist’s office. Your dentist makes an impression of the teeth during an in-office visit to create a custom-fitted mouth guard for your child’s precise fit and comfort.

As you gear your child up for sports this school year, don’t forget about a mouth guard as an essential piece of equipment for injury prevention. From baby’s first visit through their teenage years, Grove Dental provides all types of pediatric dental services to keep your child smiling!