Teens and Sports: Protecting Their Teeth With Mouthguards
With the kids back in school, that means that high school sports programs are back in full swing. And whether your child plays baseball, football, basketball, soccer, or any other “impact” sport, he or she needs to wear certain equipment in order to protect their body. At Lassin Dentistry, we consider one of the most important pieces of protective sports equipment to be the mouthguard.
Every school year we treat dozens of high school athletes who have suffered chipped or fractured teeth. Some have even had one or more teeth knocked out completely. And while we do offer advanced methods of treating these problems, the best plan of action is always a preventative one. Simply wearing a customized mouthguard could have prevented each of these painful injuries.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a flexible appliance that fits over the teeth of the athlete. It helps protect against a wide range of injuries to the mouth, which can include broken or knocked out teeth, broken jaws, split lips, and more.
What Type of Mouthguard Works Best?
There are several different mouthguard options available on today’s market. They can range from standard-issue stock mouthguards to DIY moldable mouthguards to custom-made mouthguards. Here’s how they stand up to each other.
Stock Mouthguards: Stock mouthguards are all identically made and are usually available in small, medium, and large sizes. They are the least expensive option, but they also offer the least amount of protection. Because they are uniformly made, they do not conform to the mouth. This means that the athlete must hold the appliance in their mouth by clenching the teeth at all times. This can be uncomfortable and it can impact their ability to speak and breathe on the playing field. It can often result in sore jaws and produce areas in the mouth that have been rubbed raw.
DIY Moldable Mouthguards: DIY moldable mouthguards offer a little better protection. These appliances are usually boiled in water to soften the thermoplastic and then inserted in the mouth while it is still warm. The user then bites down on the appliance to make impressions in the soft thermoplastic. This type of appliance is better than the stock mouthguards, but they can bulky and after a few uses, they will start to lose their fit.
Custom-Made Mouthguards: Custom-made mouthguards are made by your child’s dentist so they are perfectly conformed to their teeth. These appliances offer the highest level of comfort and protection because they fit perfectly. A custom mouthguard won’t slip off or obstruct your child’s breathing or their ability to speak – and this is very important when playing a team sport.
How to Care for a Mouthguard
There are few things you should to do keep your child’s mouthguard in optimum condition.
- Brush the mouthguard using a toothbrush and cool (not hot!) water after each use.
- Store the mouthguard in a clean, well-ventilated plastic box (provided by the dentist with the custom appliance) when not in use.
- Avoid leaving the mouthguard in direct sunlight.
- Bring the mouthguard to your dental appointments so your dentist can check the fit and give it a thorough, professional cleaning.
- Call your dentist immediately if you have any concerns about the appliance.
Lassin Dentistry specializes in creating custom-fitted mouthguards for child athletes of all ages. If you want your child’s teeth to have the best protection possible this sports season, give us a call today at 856-795-8080 or click here to schedule an appointment online