Do you have a child that plays sports? If so, are they using a mouthguard? Here’s why we think they are important and an essential piece of athletic gear for teens and children.

We all know that playing sports comes with the risk of injuries. Any parent who has been on the sidelines knows that uneasy feeling when their child has a run-in with one of their teammates’ elbows, a baseball bat, lacrosse stick or the basketball court floor. Mouthguards, which generally cover the upper teeth, protect against broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face and jaw. Mouthguards are especially important for those wearing braces, as they also protect the braces (or other fixed orthodontic appliances) from damage.

Custom-made: These are made by your dentist for your child personally. They are more expensive than the other versions because they are individually created for fit and comfort.

Boil and bite: Most commonly used among athletes, these can be bought at many sporting goods stores, drugstores and online and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.

Stock: These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well and are considered less protective than the above options.

Although the best fitting mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist, Dr. Robin Croswell at Capital City Pediatric Dentistry recommends parents purchase the boil and bite mouthguards. With children’s mouths changing so rapidly, it is more economical and practical to go that route than to have a custom mouthguard made.

Mouthguards are not only important in contact sports, but in non-contact activities as well, such as gymnastics, skating, biking and trampoline use where risk of injury is high.

Because teens and children’s mouths are changing, we recommend that parents replace them often, as a poor fitting mouthguard is not an effective mouthguard. Mouthguards should be kept clean and dry, and evaluated for proper fit and wear and tear regularly.

We aren’t the only ones who recommend mouthguards – The American Dental Association (ADA), the Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all urge the use of mouth protection for athletes. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, there are 7 million injuries sustained by athletes as young as 5 years old every year.

Injury prevention is the number one reason we recommend mouthguards for your active child. It’s also worth mentioning that a mouthguard is much easier on the wallet than an emergency room visit and extensive dental work!

Have any questions or need a recommendation on which mouthguard is right for your child? Give us a call – we would be happy to talk to you!