Mouth Guards: Dental Safety and Concussion Protection
More than five million teeth are knocked out annually and the lifetime cost to replace just one tooth is as high as $20,000. An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer damage to his teeth when not wearing a mouth guard, according to the American Dental Association.
Therefore, it makes good sense to have your children who play any sport to see a dentist to get fitted for a customized mouth guard to prevent not just tooth loss but head trauma as well.
In fact, both the American Dental Association and the Academy for Sports Dentistry recommend a professionally produced, properly fitted customized mouth guard for athletes playing all contact and collision sports, from football to baseball. Even soccer and volleyball players should have a special mouth guard made.
The right mouth guard for your child athlete
A customized mouth guard is designed to exactly match the structure of your child’s individual mouth, making it far more comfortable and longer-lasting than a generic boil-and-bite, inexpensive mouth guard.
Unlike generic mouth guards, a customized one can provide extra space for a child whose teeth and jaws are still developing, said Dr. Ray Padilla, president of the Academy of Sports Dentistry.
The custom guards are also made of stronger and tear-resistant materials, are easy to clean, more comfortable, fit better, and do not affect the child’s breathing or speaking. They are also odorless and tasteless, not bulky and provide enough thickness in important areas that are more susceptible to damage.
If you choose a customized mouth protector for your child athlete, the dentist will initially create an impression of her teeth. Using a special material, the mouth guard is then molded over this model. Although this type of mouth guard requires more time and work, it will work better in the long run.
Usually, mouth guards cover only your child’s upper teeth, but if they wear braces or another fixed dental appliance in their lower jaw, the dentist will create a guard for the lower teeth also. The dentist will have several mouth guards to choose from, based on your child’s specific needs.
Although customized mouth guards typically cost between $190 and $500 and most dental insurance plans do not cover the cost, they will be more comfortable and save money in the long run by protecting your child’s teeth.
For Houston area residents, the dental staff at Signature Smiles can help offer guidance on the appropriate mouth guards for your children.
Tips to caring for the mouth guard
Once your child receives their mouth guard, they should rinse it with fresh, cold water or a mouth rinse before and after each use. Or they may clean it with a mild soap and a toothbrush, using cool, soapy water and rinsing it thoroughly.
After cleaning, they should put the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container. The container allows air circulation and helps to prevent damage. If the mouth guard is acrylic, it should be stored in fresh, clean water.
The mouth guard should be checked from time to time for general wear. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes pain, call your dentist to get a replacement. Your child should also bring their mouth guard to each regular dental visit for an examination.