Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help protect your teeth from face trauma, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw.
They cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. A mouth guard is an essential piece of sports equipment that can greatly reduce your child’s risk of dental injury while playing sports or participating in other recreational activities. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) reports that up to 39% of all pediatric dental injuries are sports-related. With approximately 30 million U.S. children involved in organized sports, the need for dental protection has become a growing concern. If your child participates in sports, it is important to take precautions to protect his or her teeth by acquiring a mouth guard to prevent unnecessary dental injuries.
Benefits of Mouth Guards in Sports
Mouth guards are recommended for anyone playing contact sports, such as:
Mouth guard use is also recommended for many non-contact sports as well, especially those in which a fall or incoming ball could result in a dental injury, including:
Mouth guards serve to cushion any impact that could otherwise cause significant injury. The AAPD states the purpose of mouth guards to be as follows:
- To shield lips and mouth from lacerations and bruising
- To protect the jaw from dislocation or fracture
- To protect teeth from crown or root fractures, luxation (displacement of a tooth), and avulsion (tooth is completely knocked out)
- To support edentulous space (the area of the mouth in which no teeth are located)
- To absorb and diffuse impact energy
Dental injuries from sports are painful, inconvenient, and can be quite expensive to repair. Dental injuries often need to be treated as emergencies requiring urgent care, especially if a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth. Dental avulsion treatment can range from $5,000 to $20,000, requiring a long-term care plan which often involves school absences and schedule disruptions, as well. Taking the simple precaution of wearing a mouth guard can help avoid these painful and potentially costly injuries.
Types of Mouth Guards
Mouth guards need to fit properly in order to function at maximum effectiveness. If your child’s mouth guard is uncomfortable due to an ill fit, he or she is far less likely to use it. Several types of mouth guards are available for purchase, however, it is advisable to be aware of their differences in quality and efficiency.
Types of mouth guards include:
- Stock mouth guard: The most inexpensive mouth guard option that comes pre-molded and ready to wear. Due to a lack of custom-fit, stock mouth guards may seem bulky to the wearer, which can cause breathing or speaking problems during use, as well as inadequately protecting the mouth.
- Boil and bite mouth guard: Mouth guard that is widely available for purchase at most sporting goods stores and many drug stores. Boil and bite mouth guards are first softened in boiling water and then placed in the child’s mouth. The mouth guard then molds around the teeth when the child bites down, creating a more fitted option than the stock mouth guard.
- Custom-fitted mouth guard: Mouth guard which is individually fitted by your orthodontist or pediatric dentist. The doctor first makes a mold of your child’s jaw, then designs a mouth guard specifically to fit his or her teeth and mouth. Custom-fitted mouth guards are typically a bit more expensive than stock or boil and bite mouth guards, but offer significantly better protection due to their custom fit.
Mouth Guard Care
Taking care of your mouth guard will ensure that it functions properly and lasts as long as possible. Tips for taking proper care of your mouth guard include:
- Keep mouth guard clean and sanitized: Rinse your mouth guard before and after each use. If possible, gently clean your mouth guard with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste between each use. Wash your mouth guard occasionally with soap and cool water, as well.
- Store mouth guard in a ventilated plastic container: Most mouth guards include a proper container for storage. This keeps the mouth guard dry and bacteria-free. Keep case containing mouth guard away from pets.
- Do not leave your mouth guard in the sun or in hot water for long periods of time.
- Bring your mouth guard to each dental visit so that your dentist can evaluate it.
- A mouth guard should be replaced if it becomes damaged or chipped or when it begins to become worn.
If your child plays sports or participates in recreational activities, contact our office about getting a custom-fit mouth guard for maximum dental protection.Back to Dental Topics
Dr. Shane Fisher
Dr. Shane Fisher, a board certified pediatric dentist, has over 15 years of providing comprehensive dental care for infants, children and teenagers. He has consistently received 5 star ratings throughout social media. He has patients that travel from all over the metropolitan area including Mequon, Whitefish Bay, Thiensville, River Hills, Fox Point, Glendale and other northern Milwaukee suburbs.
If you would like for your child to have a great experience at a pediatric dentist, please call Dr. Shane A. Fisher at The Kids Dentist 262-241-0400 or complete an online appointment request.