Mouthguards: An Athlete’s Best Friend
Since April is ‘National Facial Protection Month,’ we thought it would be a good time to reiterate and review the importance of protecting the teeth and jaw bone while playing sports. Parents take so many measures to ensure the safety of their kids, but too often the use of a mouthguard is overlooked. Adding a properly fitting mouthguard into anyone’s sports armament can help protect limit to the teeth, lips, tongue, and face.
So what are some key elements to look for when choosing a mouthguard?
· It has enough flex not to tear or break
· Ideally it is custom fit by the dentist
· It doesn’t restrict breathing or speech
· It fits well and is comfortable (otherwise you or your child will not wear it)
How do you take care of your mouthguard?
· Store in a container that lets air in and out
· Rinse after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste
· Avoid hot water or the sun which can distort the mouthguard
· Check for excessive wear and replace when needed
How do I make sure the mouthguard remains effective?
· Bring it to each dental appointment for the dentist to check
· Do not cut or chew pieces off of the guard
· Do not wear any retainers or appliances while wearing the guard
We also recommend children begin wearing mouthguards when they first begin playing competitive sports. This will likely make compliance with the mouthguards better as they get older. The guards can be customized to fit the mixed dentition of their teeth and they come in a wide variety of colors and designs that can make them become more excited to use the guards. But as they continue to lose baby teeth and gain adult teeth, be sure to frequently check the fit of the guards as the changing size and shape of their teeth and jaw can change the fit. And if it doesn’t fit properly it will certainly lose effectiveness.