Understanding the Importance of Wearing Mouth Guards While Playing Sports

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When it comes to youth sports, wearing safety gear like helmets, pads, and goggles are essentially no-brainers to protect our kids’ bodies.  So, why wouldn’t we also encourage them to wear mouth guards? Are they really that important? The short answer – yes!

While many sports don’t require participants to wear mouth guards, they are nonetheless important to consider.  The fact is that over 3 million teeth are accidentally knocked out every year just from playing sports. It’s not just contact sports or those sports deemed “aggressive” that can lead to this kind of injury.  So, it’s time for parents to look at the bigger picture.

It’s estimated that by wearing a mouth guard, more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented each year.  And, mouth guards do more than just help prevent chips, breaks, and tooth loss. They also help protect your child’s face, tongue, and lips, as they help to redistribute forces from impact.  In fact, the use of mouth guards can even help reduce the severity of concussive injuries.

Which Sports Are Most Affected?

Aggressive contact sports are primarily where parents should encourage their kids to wear mouth guards.  Specifically, kids who participate in hockey, football, rugby, baseball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse are more likely to experience oral injuries.  Of course, kids who participate in other recreational sports, like biking, climbing, skateboarding, and more could also benefit from wearing a mouth guard.  It’s also worth noting that kids who have braces can also wear mouth guards. These devices can help protect and prevent damage to the brackets as well as the rest of the mouth.   

Types of Mouth Guards

Mouth guards, like other safety gear, aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.  So, to ensure that your child is wearing the right one, talk to your dentist. They’ll be able to advise you on which type will be best for your child and their specific activities.  Some types they may recommend include:

  • Custom-Fit – A custom-fitted mouth guard is what we recommend to best protect your child’s mouth while playing sports.  These are custom made for each individual using special materials right here in our office. They’re much more comfortable and easy to wear than other store-bought mouthpieces and provide the most protection.
  • Pre-Formed – These, as the name suggests, are mouthpieces that come ready to wear.  You can find them at just about any sporting goods store. The downside to these, however, is that they are one-size-fits-all.  So, for younger kids, they’re often bulky and ill-fitted, providing little to no actual protection. Sure, if you’re in a pinch, they’re better than no mouthpiece at all, but we recommend you invest in something more tailored.  
  • Boil and Bite – These mouthpieces provide more ability to tailor make an appropriately fitted mouth guard for your child compared to the pre-formed.  These can also be purchased at most sporting goods stores. To shape them, the piece is softened in hot water and then placed in the mouth to form a fitted mold.    

Effective mouth guards should be durable, comfortable, fitted, easy to clean, and allow for easy breath and speech.  So, opt for one that your child will actually use and not something that simply gets in the way. When you’re ready to learn more about custom-fitted mouth guards in our office, give us a call, and we’ll make sure your child and their smile stays healthy and protected no matter what activities they get into!  



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