A mouth guard, also known as a sports guard or athletic mouth protector, is essential equipment for any child participating in potentially injurious activities. The mouth guards fit snugly over the upper teeth, protecting the entire oral region from traumatic injury, preserving both the esthetic appearance and the health of the smile. Also, mouthguards may be used to protect teeth from damage if a child grinds (bruxes) their teeth continuously at night. In particular, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends utilizing dental mouth guards during recreational and sports activities.

The majority of store-bought mouth guards cost less than ten dollars, making them an ideal investment for every parent.

What are the benefits of mouth guards for my child?

Mouth guards are now required by most sporting organizations. Mouth guards are primarily designed to protect teeth, but they can also greatly reduce the amount of force transmitted from trauma impact points (jaw) to the central nervous system (base of the brain). Thus, mouth guards reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury, which is especially important for young children. A mouth guard can also prevent the following injuries: Cheek and gum lesions, concussions, jaw fractures, lip lesions, neck injuries, and tongue lesions.

What kind of mouthguard should I buy for my child?

There are literally thousands of mouthguard brands, but most fall into three categories: stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and customized mouthguards.

When choosing a mouth guard, consider the following factors:

  • What is the available budget?
  • Is the child active in sports on a regular basis?
  • What type of sport does the child play?
    Basketball and baseball cause more oral injuries than any other sport.

Following are some advantages and disadvantages of each type of mouth guard:

Stock mouth guards

The mouth guards can be purchased directly from the shelf and fitted immediately into a child’s mouth.  The mouth guard is universal (one-size-fits-all), which means that it cannot be adjusted.  Stock mouth guards are very cheap, easy to fit, and easily available at sporting goods stores.  These types of mouth guards are least preferred by pediatric dentists, since they provide minimal protection, obstruct proper breathing, and generally feel uncomfortable.

Boil and bite mouth guards

Usually made of thermoplastic, these mouth guards are available at most sporting goods stores.  A thermoplastic mold is created by immersing it in hot water and pressing it on the child’s teeth.  Compared to stock mouth guards, boil and bite mouth guards offer greater protection, are more comfortable to wear, and allow for easier speech production and breathing.

Customized mouth guards

This type of mouth guard offers the greatest degree of protection and is custom-made by the dentist.  In order to construct the mouth guard, the dentist molds the child’s teeth with special material.  In addition to being more expensive and taking longer to fit, customized mouth guards are also more comfortable, orthodontically correct, and approved by dentists.

Your pediatric dentist can help you choose a mouth guard for your child if you have any questions.

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