Organized sports are a great opportunity for children to learn the thrill of competition and teamwork in a healthy, supportive environment. Unfortunately, contact sports for children carry the risk of potential mouth or dental injuries. Mouthguards for athletes are an essential part of their equipment, and Glass Orthodontics recommends that all children who participate in sports wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and mouth.
An estimated 38 million children and adolescents in the United States participate in organized sports activities each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.8 million people below age 19 are treated in emergency rooms for recreation and sports-related injuries –many of them mouth and dental injuries.
Fortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented with the proper use of safety equipment, starting with a proper mouthguard or protector.
Mouthguards, also known as protectors, guard against oral injuries by providing a cushion of protection against impact to teeth, gums, lips and jaws. Mouthguards are essential for any contact sport.
Here are the three most common forms of mouthguards for athletes, sorted by the degree of protection provided, comfort and fit:
- Stock mouth protectors: Stock mouth protectors are standard, pre-formed, off-the-shelf mouth guards that can be purchased at any department store or sporting goods store. These protectors, while fairly inexpensive, are not recommended by dentists because they are generally bulky, ill-fitting and may make breathing or talking more difficult.
- Boil-and-bite protectors: Boil-and-bite protectors, while still fairly inexpensive, have a major advantage over stock mouth protectors because they offer limited custom-fitting, which allows for a better fit and better protection. These protectors are made of a special thermoplastic that becomes soft when heating, which allows the wearer to form the protector into a better fit. Simply place the protector into boiling water to soften, then bite it into shape. You can also use your fingers or tongue to form the protector and ensure a better fit. Boil and bite protectors are generally available at major department stores, sporting goods stores and drugstores.
- Custom-fitted mouth protectors: The best mouth protector is one that has been made specifically for you and custom-fitted by your orthodontist. While the most expensive of the three options, this option also offers both the highest level of protection and the greatest comfort. To create your one-of-a-kind mouth protector, your orthodontist will first make an impression of your teeth, then use this impression to create a mouthguard that is custom-made to fit perfectly in your mouth.
At Glass Orthodontics, our team is dedicated to treating patients of all ages expertly and compassionately. At your next appointment, ask us for recommendations about the best mouthguard for your athlete. We are always happy to help! Schedule today at (757) 204-7770.