Wearing a mouth guard during sports activities is one of the best ways to avoid injuries to your child’s teeth & an emergency visit to the dentist. Mouth guards, which are made from a plastic or rubber material & fit over the top arch of teeth, not only protect your teeth, but also protect lips & cheeks from being damaged by teeth during an impact.
What many children & their parents fail to realize is that mouth guards should be worn even when participating in low contact sports. While we’re used to seeing football, basketball, lacrosse & hockey players wearing mouth guards, they should also be worn by soccer players, skateboarders, skiers & snowboarders, gymnasts & ice skaters. If you can imagine any kind of impact to the face in the sport your child participates in, it’s worth it to protect their teeth with a sports guard.
The best option for a sports guard is to have it custom made by your dentist. Custom fit mouth guards fitted by a dentist have been shown in studies to offer the best possible protection for teeth. In addition to being more effective, dentist-made mouth guards are more comfortable & are less likely to impede breathing because they are designed to fit your child’s mouth specifically. And the more comfortable the mouth guard is, the more likely your child will actually wear it!
There are also over-the-counter options for mouth guards, including ready-made & boil-and-bite guards. However, to ensure that these are effective at preventing injury, you should only buy those that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. Mouthguards that don’t have this seal may not meet the dental profession’s standards for protecting teeth & lips.
We should also note that only mouth guards custom made by a dentist have been proven to protect against concussions/traumatic brain injury from an impact [source]. Over-the-counter options do not provide nearly as much protection from concussions.
Sports mouth guards should be replaced every season. Replacements are necessary because mouth guards can wear out over time but also because children’s teeth are still moving & developing, which can affect whether the mouth guard fits properly over time.
Be sure that your child has their sports guard well before their sports season or training starts so they can get used to how it feels. Make an appointment with the dentist to talk about getting a sports guard as soon as possible!