Even though it’s still summer, the kids will be heading back to school before you know it. Before all the back-to-school craziness begins, now is the time to start thinking about how to prepare your kids for success in this coming school year. You’ve probably already thought about heading to the dentist for a pre-school checkup, but you should also be thinking about mouth guards for your kids if they plan to play school sports this year.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry estimates that around 30 million kids take part in sporting activities every year. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of maxillofacial and oral injuries take place when kids are playing sports. The last thing you want to think about is your child suddenly losing his or her front teeth from a sports-related injury. Losing a tooth or suffering other oral injuries can affect your child’s speech, eating, and smile.
In most cases, it’s possible to prevent sports-related facial and oral injuries. A good mouth guard offers one of the best ways to protect the lips, teeth, tongue, and cheeks while your child is playing sports. Not sure what kind of mouth guard your child needs for back to school time? Here’s a closer look at the available options, the best choice, and a few care tips to keep in mind.
When is a Mouth Guard Required?
Certain sports will require your child to have a mouth guard, such as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. However, it’s a good idea to ensure your child wears a good mouth guard for any type of sport, whether it’s a contact sport or a non-contact sport. The risk of a facial or oral injury is high in any sport, so you should consider a mouth guard for your child no matter what type of sport they’ll be playing in the coming school year.
Different Types of Mouthguards
When you start looking at mouth guards, you’ll find a few different options. Unfortunately, they aren’t created equally. You can find a stock mouth guard at a store, and while they are cheap, they don’t fit well and can make it difficult to breathe and talk.
Another option is a boil and bite mouth guard, which involves putting the plastic mouth guard into hot water to soften it and then having your child bite into it so it forms to their teeth. They’re still inexpensive, but they come with several problems, including:
- They are bulky, which can interfere with breathing and speaking
- They don’t hold up long, so they require frequent replacement
- Biting too hard when forming can decrease protection
- If the forming isn’t done correctly, it may not fit well
The best option for your child is a custom-fit mouth guard, which is made by your child’s dentist. These mouth guards are a bit more expensive, but they fit your child’s mouth correctly, they’re durable, and they offer the best protection. Even if your child has braces, a custom-fit mouth guard can be made to offer protection. The cost of treating oral sports-related injuries is huge, so it’s well worth the investment to have a custom-fit mouth guard created by your dentist to prevent potential injuries to your child’s teeth.
Tips for Caring for Your Mouth Guard
Once your child has a mouth guard to wear while playing sports, it’s important to make sure it’s being cleaned. When you invest in a custom-fit mouth guard, you want to ensure the investment is protected. Here are a few tips you and your child can follow to keep the mouth guard clean and ensure it lasts as long as possible.
- After each use, the mouth guard should be brushed thoroughly with a toothbrush and some toothpaste.
- Occasionally it’s a good idea to clean the mouth guard with some soapy, cool water, rinsing it completely and allowing it to air dry.
- Avoid leaving the mouth guard in the sun or in hot water, since this could warp its shape and reduce the protection.
- Make sure the mouth guard is kept in a tough case that has vents when transporting it.
- Check the mouth guard regularly for jagged edges or warping. If this occurs, it needs to be replaced.
Don’t let your child start playing sports this school year without the proper protection. Visit your dentist for a back to school check up and make sure you have your child fitted for a custom mouth guard to keep their pearly whites protected.