When it comes to selecting the proper mouth guard to protect a child’s teeth while playing sports or enjoying a favorite activity, preventing injury is the top priority. Children, if allowed to choose their own piece of oral safety equipment, will often end up selecting the option which is the easiest to use and most comfortable. `It is necessary for parents to understand the various requirements with respect to each individual sport or activity in order to ensure the best practices when it comes to oral safety. In addition to potential chipped or broken teeth, injuries to the tongue and soft tissue of the mouth are also common when proper safety equipment is not used. Sports such as football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, and basketball are only a few of the many sports that require the use of mouth guards in order for a child to participate. If your child is going to participate in other sports or active hobbies such as skateboarding, boxing, wrestling, equestrian events, gymnastics, bike riding, etc., the use of oral safety devices is strongly recommended.
Consider the Options:
During an impact event, the layers of protection between the teeth, which serve as a cushion, may also help lessen the severity of concussions and other serious injuries. Many coaches will express the need for children to keep their mouth gear in at all times, but ultimately the extra attention to choosing and consistently implementing proper mouth guard wear rests with the parents. If you are undecided about whether your child’s specific activity needs a mouth guard, it is wise to error on the side of caution! While this decision may be less “user-friendly” for your child, consider the intensity of a ball, bat, other players, sidewalks, etc. and injuries commonly associated with the game or event. If your child becomes accustomed to wearing oral protection during organized sports, where it is often required to participate, it may be an easier transition for parents to enforce the same requirements during bicycling, skating, skateboarding and others. Remember the saying “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!” One single accident without proper oral safety precautions could result in a painful and costly injury.
Basic Mouth Guards:
* Boil and bite mouth guards have been around for many decades. They are made of a hard plastic, which is brought up to a warm temperature and then allowed to dry on the teeth while biting down to create a snug fit. They specifically mold to fit the teeth of the wearer.
* Stock mouth guards are those which require no special boiling or molding and are simply placed in the mouth and ready for immediate use. Unlike the boil and bite option, your child’s mouth must fit the mouth guard as opposed to molding the guard to fit the mouth.
* Custom mouth guards are the most expensive, but may be custom fit by a dentist, such as HSM Dental Group. Custom design creates the most comfortable fit in most instances and provides the greatest protection.
Guidelines suggested by the American Dental Association maintain that mouth guards should not restrict speech, be reasonably comfortable, should not be torn or able to be easily torn and the user should be able to breathe comfortably while wearing it. Following these guidelines along with routine cleaning in order to reduce risks associated with excess bacteria will provide the best possible results.
Proper Maintenance and Storage:
Mouth guards should be rinsed thoroughly with cool water or acceptable mouth rinse before and after using. It is important for air to circulate during storage so use a container that is well ventilated. Guards may be scrubbed with a toothbrush using mild soap and thoroughly rinsed with cool water. Any unnecessary wear and thinning of material should be noted and the mouth guard should either be replaced or examined by a dental professional. Guards should be kept out of direct sunlight, away from sources of heat in a stable, clean, well-ventilated storage location to ensure safe usage.
When you consider the investment that we typically make in our children’s oral health, from dental visits, braces, etc., it makes sense to implement a simple thing as a mouth guard. As parents, we all try to do our best to protect our children from harm and injury. Ensuring that those little smiles grow into healthy and happy grown-up smiles are all in a day’s work for moms and dads everywhere!
The dental team at HSM Dental Group would be happy to help you protect your child’s teeth! Please call us at 561-232-2070 and let our team of professionals guide you as you make the best choices for your child’s dental care.