Mouth guards (also referred to as athletic mouth protectors or sports guards) are important pieces of devices for children who participate in sporting activities where there’s a high risk of injury. Mouth guards are fitted over the upper teeth and they protect the entire teeth from traumatic injury, preserving the health and aesthetic appearance of the smile. Also, mouth guards sometimes protect the tooth against damage in children who have a habit of grinding their teeth at night.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) specifically emphasizes the need to wear mouth guards during any recreational or sporting activity. Most mouth guards bought in stores cost under ten dollars, making them a worthwhile investment every parent should make.
How can mouth guards protect my child?
Most sporting organizations have now mandated participants to mouth guards. Though mouth guards are designed to offer protection to the teeth, they can also minimize the force transmitted from an impact point to the base of the brain (central nervous system) in the event of a trauma. Simply put: mouth guards greatly reduces the risk of traumatic brain injury, which is particularly ideal for younger children.
Mouth guards can also help reduce the prevalence of the following injuries:
- Cheek lesions
- Soft tissues and Gum injuries
- Lip lesions
- Jawbone fractures
- Tongue lesions
- Tooth fractures
- Neck injuries
What type of mouth guard is right for my child?
Though thousands of mouth guard brands exist, most brands can be classified into three main categories: boil and bite mouth guards, stock mouth guards, and customized mouth guards.
Here some points to note when choosing a mouth guard:
- What is the available budget?
- How often does the child participate in sports?
- What type of sport does the child participate in? (Baseball and Basketball tend to cause the most oral injuries).
In light of the above points, here’s an overview of the pros and cons of each type of mouth guard:
Stock mouth guards – you can buy these directly off the shelf and they fit directly into the mouth of the child. They also have a universal fit, which means there is no need to adjust the mouth guard. Stock mouth guards are relatively inexpensive, easy to fit, and readily available at sporting goods stores. This type of mouth guard is least preferred by pediatric dentists, as it obstructs proper speaking and breathing, offers minimal protection, and tends to be uncomfortable.
Boil and bite mouth guards – these appliances are made from thermoplastic and are available at most sporting stores. First, the thermoplastic is dipped in hot water so it becomes pliable and then pressed on the teeth of the child to produce a custom mold. Boil and bite mouth guards are a bit than stock mouth guards but tend to provide more comfort in the mouth, provide more protection, and facilitate easy breathing and speaking.
Customized mouth guards – These ones provide the highest level of protection and are custom- designed by the dentist. First, an impression of the child’s teeth is made using special material and the dentist constructs the mouth guard over the mold. Custom-made mouth guards take longer to fit and are more expensive, but orthodontically correct, offer more comfort, and has the full backing of the dentist.
For questions about choosing the right mouth guard for your child, please get in touch with our office.