Parents with school-age children are busy making sure they have all the supplies needed to be successful. For kids who are active in a sport – all sports – we hope a mouth guard is on your list. One recent study found that up to 39% of oral facial injuries in children are due to sports related accidents, and 80% of dental sports injuries involve the front teeth.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), “children are most susceptible to sports-related oral injury between the ages of 7 and 11 years. The administrators of youth, high school, and college football, lacrosse, and ice hockey have demonstrated that dental and facial injuries can be reduced significantly by introducing mandatory protective equipment. Popular sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics lag far behind in injury protection for girls and boys. Baseball and basketball have been shown to have the highest incidence of sports-related dental injuries in children 7-17 years of age. More specifically, baseball had the highest incidence within the 7-12 year old age group, while basketball was the most frequent sport associated with dental injuries in the 13-17 year age group.”
Even without mandatory team rules about mouth guards, you can protect your children. There are 3 options available to you
- Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky, can make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection. Most dentists do not recommend their use. They are, however, better than nothing.
- Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure. If your child uses this type you will want to check it every couple of weeks for signs of wear and tear. Biting and clenching can actually cut through the mouth guard, so replace as needed to ensure good protection.
- Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. First, we will make an impression of your child’s teeth; then a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection. It also should last longer than the other types.