There's nothing quite like the wide smile of a child whose team has just won a game. Many sports, however, can put that smile at risk. Contact sports and sports in which there is the potential to collide with an opponent, or something like a tree or the ground, come with the possibility of mouth injury. Since prevention is nearly always the best option, your child should wear a mouth guard. A pediatric dentist can advise you on the best choice and make a custom-fitted mouth guard for your child.
Protection and Prevention
Dental injuries in sports are relatively common with half of all children suffering a dental injury at some point, according to the Sports Medicine Association. Collisions or blows to the face from bats, balls or other equipment can lead to chipped or broken teeth, damage to the inside of a tooth, tooth loss, mouth injuries or even a broken jaw. Although contact sports like football might be the first thing you think of when it comes to a dental injury, hockey, soccer, skiing and horseback riding also have the potential for falls and collisions.
Choosing a Mouth Guard
Mouth guards are available in three styles: custom-fitted, preformed and boil-and-bite. The first will be the best fitting and provide the most protection, but it is also the most expensive option as it must be made by a kid's dentist. Stock or pre-formed guards are widely available and less expensive, but might not fit quite as well as a custom guard. Boil-and-bite devices are softened in water and inserted into the mouth. Although not quite as durable as a custom-fitted device, they can be molded to ft more closely than a stock mouth guard. Any mouth guard should be tear-resistant, fit properly and comfortably, and be easy to clean. Ideally, the mouth guard should not restrict speech — stock mouth guards can cause some problems in that respect — and it should never restrict breathing.
Wear and Care
Your child should wear the mouth guard both in practice and during games. After use, the mouth guard should be rinsed with water or brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Periodically wash the mouth guard with warm soapy water, rinse well and let it dry. Don't put the mouth guard in hot water or leave it in the sun, and always use a vented storage container when it's not in use. Mouth guards should be replaced if they become worn or distorted. Ask your dentist to check the mouth guard at least every 12 months for fit and wear. Remember that as your child grows or loses baby teeth, a different mouth guard may be necessary.
We're Here For You
Help your child keep that winning smile with a well-fitting mouth guard, and protect his or her overall oral health with regular brushing and flossing. You can call us at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to schedule regular cleaning appointments and checkups, or any time you have a question.