It is estimated that 20 to 25 million youths participate in competitive sports, and as a result of this growth in participation levels, incidence of injury has also increased. According to the American Dental Association, ff those injuries, 10-20% are facial or dental injuries. Moreover, the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety contends that an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard.
Mouthguards are an item that protects you from blows to the mouth and to the head and some experts recommend that mouthguards be worn by athletes in competitive and recreational sports in which impact, contact, and collisions are likely to occur.
There are two versions of mouthguards:
- One that only goes around the teeth
- One that also has a lip protector
And there are three different types of mouthguards:
- Ready-made or stock
- Mouth-formed “boil and bite:” these require you to heat them in water and then have your child bite down on it effectively molding it to their teeth
- Custom-made: made by a dental professional
All of these mouthguards vary in price and comfort, but yet they all still provide some protection. Furthermore, according to the American Dental Association, a mouthguard that will be the most effective should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. Also, it should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.
When choosing to buy a mouthguard it can be easy to be confused during the selection process because of the amount of mouthguards available in the market. To simplify the decision-making process, these are some key factors to consider:
- Level Of Protection: it is important to ensure that the mouthguard is capable of offering the level of protection needed. The ideal mouthguard offers enough protection by lowering your risk of injuries in the key zone while also ensuring that they don’t deal with discomfort. A mouthguard should be able to last a full season.
- Fit: in order to gain full comfort and protection from wearing a mouthguard, it is crucial to ensure it has the proper fit, so look for a mouthguard specifically designed for your mouth’s specific structure. There should be no clenching or biting and a properly-fitting mouthguard can be expected to stay in place even when dealing with impact. It should never dislodge, loosen or float around in your mouth.
Lastly, it is important to remember that time is critical when handling dental injuries and to not let athletes wait until the end of the game to seek treatment for a dental injury. For the best outcome, an athlete should be transported to a dentist within 2 hours of the injury occurring.
Overall, mouthguards are vital for keeping kids from having to deal with injuries that result in permanent damage to oral structures that often require medical intervention. Plus, a way that you can encourage your child to wear a mouthguard is to show them that even professional athletes like Lebron James and Steph Curry wear mouthguards!