School's out and so are the kids; there's nothing quite as fun as being active outdoors during the summer months, as long as you don't end up toothless... from a tackle.
Dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury in sports; and as you get your children ready for their summer sport(s) activities, a mouth guard should be at the top of that list of equipment you need to get. They don't just protect the teeth, but also the mouth and jaw; areas that are not protected my regular helmets.
Children wearing braces have a slightly higher risk of oral injuries, including mouth lacerations, if their braces are hit by a ball or another player.
More than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented yearly by wearing mouth guards. That number could increase significantly if parents and coaches implemented mouth guards as a requirement to play sports.
There are three types of mouth guards available:
- Boil-and-bite mouth guards, which can be found in most sporting-good stores. They require to be heated in warm water then the user bites into the warm plastic. Because they are not vacuum fitted to the user, the fit isn't as precise.
- Athletic mouth guards, which are more thin and flexible, but less comfortable. They tend be on the bulky side and loose-fitting which can interfere with speech.
- Custom-made mouth guards created by your dental professional or orthodontist, are the most effective, as they are the most resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. Your dental professional will take an impression of your mouth and the mouth guard will be created from a cast model of your teeth.
An effective mouth guard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. It should cover the teeth, and depending on the patient's bite, also the gums.
A mouth guard strap can be fastened to most types of mouth guards; protecting against loss and allowing the mouth guard to be suspended from the face mask when not in use. Commonly, a mouth guard covers only the upper teeth, but your dental professional may recommend one for your lower teeth as well if you have a protruding jaw.
Take care of your mouth guard, so it cares for you!
- Before and after each use, rinse your mouth guard with cold water and antiseptic mouth wash. You can even clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store it in a plastic container when not in use to avoid damage due to excessive heat and cold.
- Keep it away from hot water and the sun to prevent it from melting or deforming
- Check it for tears and holes and see whether it has become loose -- a mouthguard that is torn, has been chewed through or in bad shape can irritate your mouth and lessen the amount of protection it provides
- Replace it at the beginning of every season
A mouth guard is one of the least expensive pieces of protective athletic equipment available. So before your children run out onto the field or gymnastic mat, make sure they pop in their mouth guard. The goal is always to make sure our kids are having fun but staying safe, making sure that their chance of any dental injuries is greatly reduced.
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