First and foremost, is your child currently wearing a mouth guard playing contact sports?
As invincible as children may feel these days, the fact remains that no one is immune to injury and accidents do happen. When playing contact sports, one should always be wearing protective gear, including a dental mouth guard. A dental mouth guard acts as a shock absorber to significantly lower the risk of hurting your teeth, lip, jaw, tongue, and head when engaged in a sport. Prevention will always remain the best option in order to avoid any possible long-term consequences from occurring.
Here are 3 types of common impacts:
1. Direct Impact to the Mouth
While this type of impact is rather self-explanatory, it is also the first type of impact most people think of when it comes to orofacial impacts. Impact to the mouth can come in the form of a stick, puck, ball, hand, or elbow. When direct impact to the mouth occurs, it could potentially cause temporary or permanent damage to the lips, cheeks, gums, and teeth.
2. Direct Impact to the Jaw
This impact typically comes from the side, contacting the jaw area directly. A direct hit to the jaw has the ability to cause serious damage to the jawbones, teeth, and jaw joint (TMJ).
3. Impact Under the Chin
Typically, this type of impact occurs when a shoulder, hand, or elbow comes from below on an upward angle striking the chin. When significant impact is made under the chin, the force causes the lower jaw to collide with the upper jaw, which can cause serious damage to the jawbones, teeth, and jaw joint (TMJ).
Here are some reasons why wearing a mouth guard is important:
- Children are up to 60 times safer when wearing a mouth guard.
- Mouth guards help absorb and distribute the impact of a blow to the face, helping to avoid jaw fractures, facial lacerations, concussions, and base of skull injuries.
- It is essential to protect your child’s baby teeth, as they help save and not disturb the normal eruption pattern for adult teeth.
A question we often hear at both of our dental offices is: “Are custom fitted mouth guards really worth it compared the ones you can purchase at drugstores?” Simply put, yes they are. Here is why:
- Common over-the-counter mouth guards, also known as “Boil and Bite”, need to be heated for a certain amount of time then inserted into the mouth to fit your bite. The downside to these is that the plastic is quite thin, which means that extra precaution should be taken to ensure that when molding the mouth guard to the teeth, the mouth guard is not bitten through. Custom-made mouth guards are safer and more comfortable for your child, than drugstore “Boil and Bite” mouth guards. Its durability is much less of a concern, as your local dentist will use a thicker and smoother material, that is made directly in a dental lab. We assure you that custom-made mouth guards will fit your child’s bite perfectly.
- An over-the-counter mouth guard cannot offer the same precise fit that a custom-made mouth guard can.
- In some cases, an over-the-counter mouth guard can restrict breathing or speech, and can affect gums and soft tissue if it does not fit properly. If the mouth guard does not feel comfortable, many kids end up not wanting to wear one at all.
- It is not uncommon for over-the-counter or “Boil and Bite” mouth guards to break after only a few months, due to clenching or chewing as a result of the size of the plastic.
While we believe that a custom fitted mouth guard is the best option for a child, we also understand that a drugstore mouth guard may work for some. Yes, over-the-counter or “Boil and Bite” mouth guards may be the lower priced option compared to custom fitted mouth guards, but we believe the difference in quality, comfort, durability, and safety speaks for itself. The overall goal when looking to purchase a mouth guard is to find one that fits well, allows you to breathe normally, and will stay in place in the event that impact occurs. Remember, prevention is the best tool to a strong and healthy mouth.
Thank you for reading,