Should Your Child Wear a Mouthguard?


Mouthguards prevent over 200,000 injuries every year, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, but 84 percent of young athletes still do not wear protective mouth gear if it is not mandatory. Children are 60 times more likely to experience damaged teeth without a mouthguard, according to the National Youth Sports Foundation. With multiple cost-effective options, why not purchase dental protection for your child and prevent painful, costly injuries to teeth?

Who Is at Risk of Injury?

The risk of injury changes depending upon the sport of choice. Since the 1970s, youth leagues and high schools require participants to wear mouth guards for football, ice hockey and lacrosse. Whereas football players experienced orofacial injuries at a rate of 50 percent before the mandate, the percentage is now less than 2.

Today, a different sport poses a higher risk of dental injury. The AGD estimates that basketball players are 15 times more likely to suffer an orofacial injury than football players. Regardless of whether the team requires mouthguards to participate, it’s important for parents to invest in dental protection and make sure children are guarded from injury during both practices and games.

Choosing a Mouthguard

Three mouthguard options are available. Stock mouthguards may be provided by schools or purchased at a local sporting goods store. They are the least expensive and provide the least amount of protection. Stock mouthguards may come in different sizes, but they do not mold to the child’s teeth. Due to their loose fit, stock brands normally require the child to constantly bite down to keep it in place and may limit ability to speak while it is in place.

Moldable types are a more comfortable, safer option. While the procedure varies between brands, most are dipped in boiling water to soften the plastic. The child bites down while the mouthguard is still warm, so it adheres to the shape of their teeth.

Custom-made guards are preferred, especially for children with braces. Due to their abrasive metal components, children wearing braces are more likely to suffer lacerations to their tongue, cheeks or lips if they are hit during a practice or game. An injury could also affect the orthodontic progress, requiring a longer period of time in braces. Dentists and orthodontists produce fitted personal mouth guards, normally at a higher cost than stock or moldable options. However, fitted guards are more durable. Once children’s mouths stop growing, a custom-made mouthguard is a wise investment, especially for individuals who participate in multiple sports per year.

Regularly rinse and clean all protective dental gear, and store it in a sanitary container while not in use. Talk to a professional at Oak Hills Dentistry today for additional information on how mouthguards could prevent a dental injury to your young athlete.