Kids who take part in athletic activities — whether they’re playing on organized sports teams, bicycling, or just kicking a ball around — gain a host of well-documented health benefits. Yet inevitably, along with all the fun, the possibility of injury always exists.
Among the mouth injuries dentists treat in children, it is estimated that over 25% are sports-related, and the majority of these involve the top front teeth.
Besides the immediate trauma, sports-related injuries can result in time lost from school and work, and substantial cost. Yet there’s a simple and relatively inexpensive way to reduce the chance of dental injury in children: A properly-fitted, comfortable mouthguard, worn whenever playing sports where the possibility of a facial injury exists.
Use the Right Equipment
You wouldn’t let your child play football without a helmet and protective padding, right? Yet it might surprise you to know that kids playing basketball are 15 times more likely to sustain injuries to the mouth or face than football players! Mandatory mouthguards are one reason for that: More kids wear mouth protection for football than any other sport, which has resulted in a dramatic drop in injuries.
Mouthguards are required in only four school-based sports: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey. Yet basketball and baseball are associated with the largest number of dental injuries. Other sports for which the Canadian and American Dental Associations recommend wearing a mouthguard include bicycling, soccer, skateboarding, wrestling and volleyball. Do mouthguards work? The CDA/ADA estimate that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to suffer dental injury than those who do.
What Type of Mouthguard is Best?
The best mouthguard for your child is the one he or she actually wears, both at practice and on game day. There are several different types of mouthguards on the market, which generally fall into three categories:
- An “off-the-shelf” mouthguard. Available at many sporting goods stores, this type comes in a limited range of sizes, and varies widely in quality. The least expensive option, it offers a minimal level of protection that’s probably better than nothing. It generally must be clenched in the mouth, which can make wearing it uncomfortable and cause trouble breathing and speaking.
- While undergoing orthodontic treatment we recommend the “boil and bite” mouthguard. These are designed to be immersed in hot water, and then formed in the mouth using finger, tongue and bite pressure. When they can be made to fit adequately, they generally offer better protection than the “off the shelf” type.
- The best is a custom mouthguard that we will make just for you at the end of your treatment, at no charge. This is a piece of quality sports equipment that’s custom-fabricated for your mouth. We start by taking an impression of the teeth and then make the protector for a perfect fit. It’s made from tough, high-quality material, offering maximum protection and a superior level of comfort.