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Safeguarding Smiles: The Importance of Mouth Guards in Sports

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With your children out of school for the summer, they are likely to be outside quite a bit and into all sorts of activities. You may have your child signed up for an organized sport or a sport camp, providing an excellent opportunity for your children to exercise, engage in healthy competition, and have fun. However, along with the fun, all those activities also come with a risk of injury to their teeth and their mouth. For your little athletes, especially those participating in contact sports, protecting their smile is crucial.

“Lots of kids are starting to play sports this time of year, and as a pediatric dentist, the first thing that comes to my mind is that they need to be wearing a mouth guard! Mouth guards are often overlooked, and they are a very import piece of protective equipment that can prevent injuries,” says Dr. Lela Farmer of Scuba Smiles for Kids in San Antonio.

We think a mouth guard is so important, that we decided to walk you through the process of determining if your child needs a mouth guard, when they should wear one, and how to choose the right one.

Does Your Child Athlete Need a Mouth Guard?

The importance of a mouth guard can vary by activity but is almost always recommended for any sport your child may be participating in this summer. While sports like football, lacrosse, and hockey may REQUIRE mouth guards, there are many other activities where they are equally important.

Dental experts recommend that your child wear a mouth guard for the following types of sports:

  1. Ball-and-Stick Sports: Baseball, softball, and tennis fall into this category.
  2. Competitive Riding: Whether it’s cycling, horseback riding or skateboarding, a mouth guard is essential.
  3. Hand-to-Hand Sports: Boxing and martial arts involve close contact, making a mouth guard crucial.
  4. Field Sports: Football, rugby, soccer, and all high-impact sports demand mouth protection.
  5. Outdoor Activities: Water skiing, biking, roller skating and rollerblading also pose risks to their smile.

If your child can be hit in the mouth by a ball or could fall while playing the sport and injure their mouth, a simple mouth guard may save your child the agony of broken teeth, painful soft tissue damage, not to mention an expensive trip to the dentist’s office.

“Some recent data shows that incidents of concussion can even be reduced by wearing a properly fitted mouth guard,” says Dr. Farmer.

Again, keep in mind that a mouth guard can help protect your child from concussions, partial or total tooth loss, soft tissue damage which includes the lips, tongue, gums and cheeks, as well as partial tooth damage like a fractured or chipped tooth.

How Often Should Your Child Wear a Mouth Guard?

While we strongly encourage your child to wear a mouth guard during official games, you might be wondering about other scenarios where a mouth guard could help keep their mouth and teeth safe from injury.

  1. Casual or Pickup Games: Even during friendly matches, a mouth guard provides essential protection.
  2. Practices: Accidents can happen during practice sessions, so wearing a guard is advisable.
  3. Recreation with Family or Friends: Whether it is a family bike ride or a game of soccer with friends, keep that mouth guard handy.

Remember, whenever your child engages in a summer activity that could involve injury to their mouth, it is a good idea to make sure they wear their mouth guard.

3 types of mouth guards to consider:

1. Standard Mouth Guards: These cannot be customized and may be uncomfortable for extended wear.

2. Bite-and-Fit Mouth Guards: These can be warmed up and molded to fit the user’s teeth. They are more comfortable than standard models but may not accommodate braces or other dental appliances.

3. Custom Sports Mouth Guards: The gold standard! Fitted by your child’s dentist at Scuba Smiles for Kids, these guards use high-quality, durable materials and fit perfectly. They offer maximum protection against injuries.

“For kids, a mouth guard you can get at the store, like a “boil and bite” is typically going to be the best, mostly because they’re having so many changes as they are growing and losing teeth,” says Dr. Farmer.

As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, we can make them a more custom fitted mouth guard at Scuba Smiles. If you are unsure what to buy or where to buy a good mouth guard, your child’s dentist is often a great source of information!

Choose wisely to safeguard your child’s smile, no matter how intense their competitive sports experience this summer.

When it comes to protecting your child’s oral health and their smile, Scuba Smiles is always here to answer your mouth guard questions.