Mouthguards are an important investment for kids who are involved in contact sports. The teeth and jaws are vulnerable to injuries and accidents that can damage the teeth. They protect baby teeth, which are essential to everyday functions like eating and speaking. Baby teeth also prevent bone loss and preserve space for permanent teeth later on. Without them, a child’s mouth may not develop correctly and it may need extensive orthodontic work in the future.
Children and teens who play sports are at an even higher risk of injury if they have braces. The metal brackets and wires can scratch the mouth if there is an accident. Our dentist offers custom-fitted mouthguards for kids with orthodontic appliances as well.
What are mouthguards?
A mouthguard is a dental appliance used to protect the mouth by absorbing the impact of any blow. It’s usually made of poly copolymer clear thermoplastic, polyurethane, or laminated thermoplastic. These are soft materials that feel comfortable but are sturdy enough to protect the mouth. They should cover the upper teeth, tongue, lips, jaws, and cheek lining. The mouthguards are designed to protect the upper teeth because upper teeth are more prominent and susceptible to damage.
There are all types of mouthguards, but these are the three major categories:
- Stock: This is the most generic mouthguard for basic protection. Stock mouthguards are mass produced, so they are available at most athletic stores. These are a quick, convenient solution for low impact sports, but they’re not great so great long term. Since they’re preformed, they may be too bulky to fit comfortably and safely in the mouth.
- Boil and bite: As the name suggests, this mouthguard is a DIY custom fit option for kids to make at home. They are softened in boiling water, then inserted in the mouth to contour to its shape. Many kids find this option to be much more comfortable than a generically shaped mouthguard.
- Custom-made: For a high quality mouthguard, the pediatric dentist can design a custom mouthguard for patients. The guard is molded to fit every groove and tooth in the mouth. The material is also stronger and more comfortable than any store bought alternative.
What are high contact sports?
High contact sports are athletic activities that involve physical contact between players. Though most teams will require and/or provide protective equipment, many do not specify whether mouthguards are needed. If they are, it’s unlikely the team will have mouthguards are available for use because of hygienic reasons. At New Generation Dentistry, our pediatric dentist urges parents to be strict with the protocol and invest in a mouthguard. It can cost much more to fix a broken jaw than to buy a reusable mouthguard. Below are common high contact sports that you may want to consider getting a mouthguard for:
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
There are more sports that necessitate a protective mouthpiece, so we encourage parents to research the sport and its rules independently. If you have a teen involved in these sports, mouthguards are even more critical to your child’s oral health because once permanent teeth are knocked out, they are gone forever. Please contact our office in Mission Viejo if you have any questions about mouthguards or dental safety. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Sara Khoshbin, is well-versed in dental emergencies, custom mouthguards, and children’s oral health.