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Does Your Child Need a Mouth Guard for Sports?

Posted in General Dentistry

Parents frequently ask if their child should wear a dental mouth guard while playing sports. The answer is yes, definitely. Children should wear mouth guards if they are playing any kind of contact sport such as football, martial arts, or hockey. It is also advisable for children to wear them when they play other sports with less contact such as baseball and soccer. Wearing a mouth guard helps protect their teeth from chipping or breaking. It can also provide protection for the soft tissue, lips and tongue.

Do I need to get a custom mouth guard?

There are two types of mouth guards, those that are custom fit, and those that are not. A generic mouth guard is available at any local pharmacy or at a sports store. These are boil and bite where you place the guard in hot water and then take it out and bite on it so it forms to the teeth. A custom made mouth protector is made by a lab after making impressions of the teeth. Even though custom mouth guards are more expensive, they will be more comfortable and offer a better fit than over the counter versions. However, if parents cannot afford to have a mouth guard custom made, it’s better to wear a cheap, generic one than to not wear one at all.

Preventing Dental Injuries

Mouth guards can be beneficial for preventing most dental injuries. Some experts have also suggested that they may help reduce the rate of concussions as well. The most common injuries that occur without a mouth guard include broken or chipped teeth, injuries to the lip or cheek, damage to the root of a tooth and a concussion. Any contact sport, and even some that are not considered to be contact sports can increase the risk of an injury if there a mouth guard is not worn. The thick, soft plastic used to make the device helps provide protection for the teeth, mouth, cheeks, jaw and tongue.

One study using high school athletes discovered that about 75% of all mouth injuries happened when a mouth guard was not being worn. About 45% of all mouth injuries happened due to incidental contact in sports that are not usually considered contact sports like baseball, basketball, volleyball and wrestling. If a child is participating in any sport, it is recommended that they wear a mouth guard to ensure the safety of their mouth.

How to get a Mouth Guard

It is simple to get a mouth guard for your child before they start playing sports. You can discuss mouth guards with Waterloo dentists and ask which kind they recommend for children. They will typically suggest a custom-made mouth guard for the added protection and better fit. While you are waiting for it to be made at the lab, you may choose to use one you purchase at the store. It will at least provide some protection during sports while waiting for the customized guard is being formed.6