How Important Are Mouth Guards For Young Athletes?


How Important Are Mouth Guards For Young Athletes?

When you’re getting ready to play a sport, you probably gear up with some standard safety equipment. You’ve got your helmet and pads for football, shin guards for soccer and knee pads for volleyball, but one piece of equipment that isn’t regularly worn by athletes is a mouthguard. For most sports, even if contact isn’t a main part of the sport, mouthguards should be worn by young athletes.

Why Mouthguards Matter

Mouthguards are very important during athletic activity because they help to prevent broken, chipped, cracked and dislodged teeth. Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Losing a tooth during sports is a pretty rare occurrence, so as long as my children aren’t unlucky, they are probably safe,” but that’s simply not true. Having a tooth knocked out during sports actually occurs way more frequently than you think.

Estimates suggest that 300,000 teeth are knocked out during sporting activity each year. That’s a lot of teeth! But get this, that’s not the true amount of dislodged teeth. According to the American Dental Association, more than three million teeth are knocked out every year across all kids’ sports. Don’t let your child become one of the three million kids who will lose a tooth during sports this year because you didn’t equip them with a mouthguard.

Mouthguards can’t protect against every tooth injury, but they certainly help. Even though mouthguards aren’t widely used across most sports, the ADA estimates that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. And that number would only increase if more children and teens began wearing mouthguards during their sport.

It’s not just hockey and football players that are losing their teeth. Those are certainly contact sports, but those are the two highest activities with mouthguard use, so mouthguards are already doing a lot to protect injuries in these sports. Other sports that your child should wear a mouthguard during include:

  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Rugby
  • Lacrosse

If you’re more of a solo athlete, you’ll still want to wear a mouthguard during activities like mountain biking, skateboarding, rollerblading or when you’re on a hoverboard. Aside from protecting your teeth, the mouthguard also acts as a shield for your mouth in the event you end up biting down on a soft portion of your mouth. Each year, mouthguards prevent countless lacerations and cuts to the mouth, lips and tongues of athletes across the country.

Picking Out A Mouthguard

There are a couple of options available when it comes time to pick out a mouthguard for your child. We go into greater detail in this blog post, but essentially you can get a preformed mouthguard, a “boil and bite” mouthguard or a custom fit mouthguard. Boil and bite mouthguards are probably the most common option for young athletes, as they aren’t much more expensive than the preformed option and they provide a more comfortable fit.

With that said, if your child has braces or other mouthgear, a custom brace is probably the route to go. We encourage custom mouthguards because it creates a better fit and people are more likely to wear them.

For more information about mouthguard safety, or to talk to a dentist about your mouthguard options, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

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