Youth Mouth Guard—Why Your Little Athlete Needs One

If your child plays sports, they need to wear a mouth guard as an essential and regular piece of protective equipment. Even if they don’t play a contact sport, like football, going without adequate protection can lead to serious orofacial injuries. A properly fitted youth mouth guard is an easy, simple preventative measure.

Why is a Mouth Guard So Important?

A girl sits in a dental chair as she picks out a toy from a basket held by a staff member. Sports are common causes of facial trauma and dental injuries in children. According to a study of dental injuries related to sports and recreation, about 11,000 children visit emergency rooms every year for this kind of injury. This doesn’t account for less serious injuries that do not require an ER visit.

The study recorded more injuries in boys and in children between the ages of 7 and 12. Playground equipment, bicycles, and baseball or softball caused the most injuries.

Youth sports participation has increased in recent years. While generally good for health, sports can cause a host of preventable injuries. Trauma to the teeth and face is especially problematic in children, who are still growing. These injuries require immediate and careful treatment to prevent lifelong deformities and other issues.

Types of Sports-Related Dental Injuries

A child can suffer from several types of facial and dental injuries from contact or falls in sports:

  • Fracture. A fracture can occur in the bones of the face and jaw or in a tooth.
  • Avulsion. An avulsion occurs when a tooth is completely knocked out of its socket.
  • Luxation. A luxation is a tooth that has twisted, turned, or lifted but is still attached to the socket.
  • Laceration. A laceration is a cut to the soft tissue of the face or inside the mouth.

Treatments for these injuries vary depending on type and severity, but all should be checked out by a dentist immediately.

Choosing a Mouth Guard

A young boy sits in a dental chair holding a stuffed toy. The best way to prevent dental and facial injuries is to use a mouth guard. While a mouth guard in football youth teams has long been the norm, children don’t always wear these protective devices in sports with less contact.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children wear mouth guards while participating in any sport that could result in an orofacial injury. This includes baseball and softball, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, and others.

Mouth guard selection can be a little confusing, so it’s best to talk to your child’s dentist about these options and which is best:

Stock Mouth Guard

This is a simple over-the-counter product. You place it in the mouth and bite down to hold it in place. There is no way to modify this type of mouth guard to make it more protective or to fit better. While there are limitations to the effectiveness of this type, it is still better than no protection.

Youth Lip Guard Mouth Guard

A dental office reception area includes a child’s play structure, picnic table, and large seating area. A subtype of the stock mouth guard, this style includes protection for the lips. The lips are also vulnerable to injuries while playing sports, so these provide additional protection. You will see them most commonly in football. A downside to the lip guard is that the athlete cannot easily communicate with other players.

Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guard

A step up from the stock mouth guard is a modifiable model. This type is made from a type of material that changes in response to heat. You submerge it in hot water and then put it in the mouth to shape it.

Custom Sport Youth Mouth Guard

For the best protection, choose a custom mouth guard. Dentists make these based on models of the young athlete’s mouth. Fitted mouth guards provide the most protection and comfort. They are also most likely to stay in the mouth during activities. While they cost more than other models, a fitted mouth guard is still less costly than treatment for some dental injuries.

If you have a child involved in any type of sport, it’s time to start thinking about mouth guards. Request an appointment with our experienced pediatric dentist to learn more about your options, including a custom-fitted mouth guard.

  • AUTHOR

    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    November 11, 2022

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