Sports guards or mouthguards, are crucial pieces of equipment for any child participating in potentially injurious recreational or sporting activities. Fitting snugly over the upper teeth, a sports guard protects the entire oral region from traumatic injury, preserving both the esthetic appearance and the health of the smile. In addition, sports guards can help with the prevention of concussions.
How can sport guard/mouth guards protect my child?
The majority of sporting organizations now require participants to routinely wear sport guards. Though sport guards are primarily designed to protect the teeth, they can also vastly reduce the degree of force transmitted from a trauma impact point (jaw) to the central nervous system (base of the brain). In this way, sport guards help minimize the risk of traumatic brain injury, which is especially important for younger children.
Sport guards/mouth guards also reduce the prevalence of the following injuries:
What type of sport guard/mouth guard should I purchase for my child?
Though there are literally thousands of sport guard and mouth guard brands, most brands fall into three major categories: stock mouth guards, boil and bite mouth guards, and customized mouth guards.
Some points to consider when choosing a guard include:
How much money is available to spend?
How often does the child play sports?
What kind of sport does the child play? (Basketball and baseball tend to cause the most oral injuries).
In light of these points, here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of mouth guard:
Customized sport/mouth guards – These guards offer the greatest degree of protection, and are custom-made by the dentist. First, the dentist makes an impression of the child’s teeth using special material, and then the mouth guard is constructed over the mold. Customized guards are more comfortable, orthodontically correct, and fully approved by the dentist.
Stock mouth guards – These mouth guards can be bought directly off the shelf and immediately fitted into the child’s mouth. The fit is universal (one-size-fits-all), meaning that the guard doesn’t adjust. Stock guards are very cheap, easy to fit, and quick to locate at sporting goods stores. Pediatric dentists favor this type of mouth guard least, as it provides minimal protection, obstructs proper breathing and speaking, and tends to be uncomfortable.
Boil and bite mouth guards – These guards are usually made from thermoplastic and are easily located at most sporting goods stores. First, the thermoplastic must be immersed in hot water to make it pliable, and then it must be pressed on the child’s teeth to create a custom mold. Boil and bite mouth guards are slightly more expensive than stock mouth guards, but tend to offer more protection, feel more comfortable in the mouth, and allow for easy speech production and breathing.
If you have questions or concerns about choosing a sport guard/mouth guard for your child, please contact our office.