Of the 50 million children who participate in sports in the United states, almost 1 in 10 will suffer an orofacial injury. Fortunately most sports teams recommend or require that their athletes use a mouthguard, especially in high impact sports. Mouthguards have been shown to prevent 200,000 serious injuries among those children who are active in sports.
What is a sports mouthguard?
Mouthguards are plastic protective devices that are shaped like a dental impression tray, and are designed to adhere to the shape of the teeth, and gums. The mouthguard protects the upper and lower teeth and helps prevent them from crashing together upon impact, and from getting hit by something on the outside of the mouth, like a puck, stick or ball. Using a mouthguard may help prevent the possibility of costly dental bills and will help keep your athlete safe.
What types of mouthguards are available?
There are three main types of mouthguards to choose from that are designed to use while playing sports. Each one has different price points, level of comfort and protection:
- Stock mouthguards (over the counter): These mouthguards are the least expensive option but also the least protective. They are pre-formed and are intended to use right from the package. They can be bought in most sporting goods stores. The problem with these types of mouthguards is that they do not fit well and result in the player having to clench his or her teeth to keep them in place.
- Boil and bite mouthguards (over the counter): These mouthguards are the most popular choice among student athletes because they are convenient to buy at most sporting goods stores and are not expensive. The mouthguard is placed in boiling water to soften them, and then put into place in the mouth and held there until it cools down. The mouthguard will mold to the shape of the teeth and hardens in place to create a custom fit. The drawback comes when forming the mouthpiece to the teeth. If it is bitten down on too hard the molding will become too thin and not protect the teeth effectively upon impact. These mouthguards may only be used for one or two seasons.
- Custom-fit mouthguards (made in the dental office): This mouthguard is recommended by dentists as the best option to provide long lasting comfort, durability and protection from damaged teeth. These mouthguards do not lose their shape and provide extra protection. You will have to consider the best option based on the type of sport your child plays and the level of cost and protection that will work best for them to protect their teeth, gums and mouth from dental injury.
Source: “The Importance of Mouthguards,” September 8, 2017, 123dentist.com
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