Why Your Child Needs a Mouth Guard

Why Your Child Needs a Mouth Guard

Youth activity is on the rise — an estimated 20 to 25 million children are now participating in competitive sports each year. Those competitive sports account for 36% of unintentional injuries, with 10-20% of those being maxillofacial. Studies show that an athlete who fails to wear a mouth guard is 60 times more likely to suffer dental injury during sports, but the use of a mouth guard can prevent over 200,000 oral injuries a year.

The following dental injuries are common in sports:

  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Fractured crowns or bridgework
  • Lip and cheek injuries
  • Root damage
  • Fractured jaw

These oral injuries are all preventable with the use of a mouth guard, but it’s important to ensure you’re choosing the correct mouth guard for your needs. There are three different types:

  • Custom-made mouth guards
    • Made from full-mouth impression taken at dentist’s office and sent to lab for fabrication
    • Pros
      • Provides most protection and comfort
      • Covers all teeth and cushions the jaw
      • No interference with speech or breathing
      • Adjustable for all sports
    • Cons
      • Tend to be at a higher price point
  • Mouth-formed or “boil-and-bite” mouth guards
    • Boiled in water to soften, then formed by teeth by applying pressure
    • Pros
      • Cost effective
      • Available at sporting good stores
      • Provides a more custom fit than stock mouth guards
    • Cons
      • Wear quickly and require replacement
      • Difficult to adapt to orthodontic appliances
      • Difficult to speak
  • Stock or commercial mouth guards
    • Rubber or polyvinyl and sold in different sizes
    • Pros
      • Sold in most department and sporting good stores
      • Inexpensive
    • Cons
      • Cannot be modified for a custom fit
      • Least effective in terms of protection
      • Impairs breathing and only stays in place when mouth is closed

Taking care of your mouth guard is another important factor. Always wash it with cool, soapy water and rinse well before use. To further prevent the buildup of germs and bacteria, use a toothbrush and toothpaste to gently brush your guard before and after use. Never chew on your mouth guard and never wear retainers with it. Be sure to check for signs of wear and tear, as mouth guards should be replaced when needed.

Different sports require different levels of protection. At Cornerstone Family Dentistry in Nashville, we are happy to talk with you in detail about what mouth guard is the best fit for your child.