Your child’s teeth are important! Here’s why they need a mouthguard.
It’s normal for kids to get a few bumps and bruises playing sports, so you protect them with knee pads, helmets, and other safety equipment. However, your child’s teeth are just as important — here’s why your child needs a mouthguard, how to choose one, and how to keep it in good condition.
Why Does My Child Need a Mouthguard?
The American Dental Association reports that dental trauma occurs in only about 7% of sports injury cases where the individual was wearing a mouth guard, compared to nearly 60% of cases where the individual wasn’t wearing a guard. The same study suggests that mouth guard users are up to 93% less likely to suffer from dental injuries than non-mouth guard users.
Simply put, wearing a mouth guard drastically reduces your child’s chances of dental injury when playing sports.
Choosing a Mouthguard
There are three types of mouthguards available:
- Boil and bite guards. These can be purchased at any sports store or department store and are typically the most economical choice. Place them in boiling water to soften the plastic and when not too hot, place it in your child’s mouth. They’ll bite down, molding the plastic to their teeth, which keeps its new shape as it cools.
- Athletic mouth guards. Mouthguards that are designed specifically for sports come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and styles. Some may have additional benefits like antimicrobial properties or strategic openings for increased airflow.
- Custom-fit mouth guards. Dentists often offer specially fit mouthguards for children who are very active in sports. Because these guards are specifically molded to your child’s mouth by a dental professional, it offers additional protection beyond what over-the-counter mouth guards can provide.
Caring for a Mouthguard
Taking care of a mouth guard is simple but requires commitment. Work with your child to help them learn how to:
- Clean their mouthguard after every use
- Replace the guard in its protective case when not in use
- Avoid exposing the guard to extreme temperatures
- Do not chew on the guard
Ideally, you should be replacing your child’s mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season and as needed throughout. Replace guards that show any signs of damage or that are no longer comfortable for your child to wear.