Watching your child participate in sports is a pleasure millions of parents have. But watching your child suffer an avoidable injury is something no parent should endure. Unfortunately, sports related injuries are far too common, but thankfully, there are protective measures parents can take to ensure their child’s safety. Pads, helmets and mouthguards go a long way to ensure protection. In fact, 39 percent of all dental injuries are sports related, and many of these injuries could be avoided or diminished if a mouthguard is worn.
A mouthguard is worn to protect the upper and lower teeth as well as the jaw and gums. Mouthguards can help prevent a variety of dental injuries, particularly injuries received while playing sports like football, wrestling, lacrosse, field hockey and ice hockey. Make no mistake, a dental injury can occur during most any athletic event; it’s best to make sure your child’s mouth is safe, no matter what sport they play.
Types of Mouthguards
The most common types of athletic mouthguards are stock mouthguards, boil and bite mouthguards, and custom-made mouthguards. There are several factors to consider when deciding which kind of mouthguard to buy.
- Stock Mouthguards: Stock mouthguards can be purchased in most any sports store. They are inexpensive and will likely not last more than a few weeks. The main issues with stock mouthguards is that they adopt a “one size fits all” model, so there’s no guarantee a stock mouthguard will fit in your child’s mouth properly. In short, having a stock mouthguard is better than having no mouthguard, but there are better options to ensure safety.
- Boil and Bite Mouthguards: These mouthguards can also be purchased in a store, and the offer slightly better protection than a stock mouthguard. After buying a boil and bite mouthguard, you place the mouthguard in warm water, wait for the bite layer to get soft, then you bite down on the guard as it cools and contours to the shape of your teeth. The main problem with these mouthguards is that they can be bulky in your child’s mouth, and wear out over time. While you can purchase one for less than $50, you may find yourself buying them often.
- Custom-made Mouthguards: A custom-made mouthguard is the most expensive option, but that will be money well spent, as these mouthguards are the best for ensuring your child’s safety. A custom mouthguard is made by your dentist to specifically fit your mouth. Your dentist will take imprints of your mouth and create your mouthguard using your exact specifications. A custom mouthguard will fit you perfectly, and it will be made from material that won’t tear or wear down over short periods of time. If your child is actively engaged in sports, a custom mouthguard is the way to go.
Caring for a Mouthguard
After you’ve purchased your mouthguard, you’ll want to follow some steps to ensure that the guard lasts a long time.
- Keep the mouthguard clean. Mouthguards can trap all sorts of bacteria and germs, so make sure you are soaking it in warm water and hydrogen peroxide after every use.
- Proper storage. Keep the mouth guard in a clean, ventilated container such as a durable plastic container. Be sure to keep the container out of direct sunlight or extreme heat.
- Examine the mouthguard. Mouthguards can rip and tear and lose sturdiness. If your mouthguard is damaged or no longer fits properly, replace it right away. And remember, a custom mouthguard will always fit your teeth perfectly, because it was designed specifically for you.
Common Dental Injuries
Dental injuries are costly and painful. But helping avoid injuries related to sports can be simple. Here are some common injuries you can face without the use of a mouthguard.
- Avulsion. Avulsions occur when the entire tooth is displaced. A displaced tooth will need to be re-implanted or replaced by a dentist.
- Tooth fracture. A tooth fracture occurs when the tooth is broken or chipped. If a tooth fracture cures, it’s important to control the bleeding by biting on a cloth or towel. You also want to keep the tooth alive by placing it in milk or gauze soaked in saline.
- Luxation. A luxation, also known as a lateral displacement or an extruded tooth, occurs when the tooth remains in the socket but is in the wrong position. A lateral displacement occurs when the tooth is pulled forward or pushed back. An extruded tooth is one that sits higher than surrounding teeth. The type of luxation will determine the necessary dental care. Sometimes a dentist can reposition the tooth, but more severe injuries may require further procedures.
It is important to seek professional dental care immediately after an injury. The longer you wait, the worse the injury can get. The good news is that many of these injuries can be avoided by wear a custom made mouthguard.
Protect Your Smile While You Play
Sports safety is important. When your child is gearing up to hit the field, court or mat, don’t forget to have them wear their mouthguard. If your child needs to be fitted for a custom mouthguard, or needs a mouthguard replaced, Ideal Dental Solutions can help! Contact us today to begin protect your smile during all of your child’s athletic activities.