Kids will be kids, but it doesn’t mean they have to show their childhood scars their entire life. Children who are active and participate in softball, football, soccer, basketball, or other competitive sports run a daily risk of disfigurement, especially when it comes to teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), around 36 percent of all accidental injuries among children and teenagers are caused during sports participation. Up to 20 percent of those injuries are maxillofacial injuries, and among them dental injuries are the most common. This is why organizations like the ADA advocate for active children and adolescents to always wear mouthguards while playing any type of high-contact and aggressively physical sports.
The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety says that an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain dental damage if not wearing a mouthguard. Damage could be as minor as a chipped tooth, but more than likely may result in severe trauma like avulsion (where the whole tooth is knocked out), luxation, an extruded tooth, or a lateral displacement. While these can be disfiguring and painful injuries, they can also be costly and lead to more serious maladies like periodontal disease in the future.
These statistics can be quite alarming to parents, but research has shown that while these injuries are common they are also easily preventable. However, for optimal protection, the right equipment must be used. The ADA says the most effective mouth equipment should be durable, can withstand tearing, is comfortable, and most importantly fits properly and does not restrict talking and breathing.
There are four kinds of guards to choose from: the stock mouthguard, the “boil and bite” mouthguard, vacuum custom made mouthguard, and the pressure laminated custom made. The first two are the most common, frugal, and easy-to-find. Because they are essentially “ready to wear” and made of cheap materials, they fit poorly, deteriorate rapidly, and offer the least amount of protection. Dentists and sporting experts recommend the two custom made models for ultimate safeguard. These pieces must be procured from your local dentist who will work with a mold of your child’s mouth to make a personalized mouthguard that can withstand her specific sport, whether it is gymnastics or soccer, access whether allowances need to be made for lost baby and emerging adult teeth, as well as fitting the piece for ultimate comfort, ease of speech, and breathing. (At Watts Family Dental, we offer custom fittings for PlaySafe sports mouthguards for children of all ages.)
If you do purchase a custom designed mouthguard, make sure your child treats it as they would their teeth. Quality mouthguards are easy to care for. Simply rinse it after each use with cold water or antiseptic mouthwash and store it in a perforated container to allow for excess moisture that to escape. It should be checked for wear often, and the ADA recommends for it to accompany your child to the dentist for evaluation during regular check-ups. Just like with flossing and brushing, caring and wearing a mouthguard is just one more precaution to keeping your child’s smile intact.
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental, your friendly Overland Park Dentist. We’re committed to healthy smiles for the whole family. Please call (913) 338-3384 or visit our Overland Park, Kansas office. You may also send an email direct to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.