If you are a parent with kids playing sports—especially high impact sports—you are no doubt aware of the inherent dangers involved. You’ve probably purchased shin guards, kneepads, shoulder pads and a helmet or two…but have you considered the risks to your child’s mouth?
According to WebMD, 40% of mouth injuries occurring in adolescents and young adults happen while they are playing sports, yet only about 7% of young people wear mouth protection. In 1962, when colleges and high schools began requiring young people to wear mouth protection during sports, the risk of injury dropped from approximately 50% to less than 1%, depending on the sport and the study cited.
What kind is best?
The best type of mouth guard is one that has been specially molded to fit your teeth and jaw. Your dentist can make one for you, and while they are not cheap, when you factor in the physical and emotional cost of a catastrophic injury to your mouth or face, it is definitely worth it.
How is it made?
Your dentist will make a plaster cast of your teeth, and then use that cast to make a mouth guard specifically designed for you. Most dentists will allow you to “personalize” your guard, including making it in your team colors or putting your team mascot on it. In any case, you can be assured that the protection that it provides will reduce your risk of injury. A well-made guard is comfortable to wear as well, unlike the over-the-counter brands that can be awkward.
What is the difference between a mouth guard and a night guard?
As we have discussed, a mouth guard is typically used during sports. A night guard is prescribed by your dentist when you have been diagnosed with bruxism (grinding your teeth) and is used to prevent injury to your teeth and jaw while you are sleeping. Night guards should also be molded specifically to your mouth, to provide maximum protection. It should be noted that the two are not generally interchangeable. A night guard is not made of the same heavy material as a mouth guard and will not provide the level of protection that you need for sports play. In addition, while you can conceivably wear your mouth guard while you’re sleeping, it will most likely be rather uncomfortable, as it is made of a stronger, thicker material.
Contact us at Pearland Family Dentistry today to make the proper recommendation for your particular sport or activity. Make an appointment once you have decided what sport you plan to play, and have a complete oral checkup, then invest in proper mouth protection. All it takes is one good hit to the mouth to do major damage—and it is preventable!