Let’s Talk About Mouthguards and Sports

Let’s Talk About Mouthguards and Sports

The kids are back in school. Just when you think life might slow down a bit, your afternoon taxi service to and from sports practices hits full throttle. Luckily, you have a bit of wait time before sweaty and thirsty kiddos pile in the back of your car. Enough time to catch up on some blogs and learn about the importance of mouthguards. For starters, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), one third of all dental injuries are sports related, and mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries annually. Moreover, the risk of an orofacial sports injury runs 1.6-1.9 times higher when a mouthguard isn’t worn. Glad you’re reading this, because mouthguards can save your kids’ teeth.

Mouthguards Are For More Than Contact Sports

We’re not merely talking to moms and dads sitting in minivans at the football field. Contact sports have been on board with mouthguards for a long while. However, according to the ADA, if you’re waiting to pick up your child in a limited- and non-contact activity like gymnastics and skating, your child is participating in a sport where dental injuries are prevalent. In fact, in addition to all contact sports, the ADA promotes a properly fitted mouthguard for the following limited-contact sports and activities:

Acrobatics

Baseball

Bicycling

Equestrian events

Field events

Gymnastics

In-line skating

Racquetball

Shot-putting

Skateboarding

Skiing

Skydiving

Softball

Squash

Surfing

Volleyball

Weightlifting

Extreme Sports

Types of Mouthguards

Generally, there are three types of mouthguards:

  1. The ready-made or stock mouth guard. You can pick these up at any sporting goods store. These are inexpensive, so you don’t have to worry about your kids losing them. But they are also a pain because they’re bulky and have to be held in place by biting down on them. They interfere with breathing and talking. Kids hate them, so they often fail to wear them. These mouthguards are the least protective of the three types. We don’t recommend them.

  2. The mouth-formed boil-and-bite mouthguard. These popular mouthguards conform to the shape of your teeth by first being immersed in hot water. Once softened, the thermoplastic is placed in the mouth to take the shape of the teeth. These are also available at most sporting goods stores and pharmacies. They are more expensive but superior to stock mouthguards, which is why so many athletes use them. Even so, they are not as good as custom-made mouthguards.

  3. The custom-made mouthguard. By far the most protective mouthguard is one that is dentist- customized from an individual dental impression. These mouthguards fit perfectly, are more comfortable, less obtrusive, and more likely to be worn. The downside is they are more expensive. If you have a younger child whose teeth are changing or is prone to losing things, you’ll want to discuss the pros and cons of this option with your dentist before making this choice. Online companies also provide impression kits, but taking a good impression takes practice. Ask any dental assistant. We don’t advise mail-in mouthguard kits for that reason.

Mouthguards and Braces

Kids (or adults) who wear braces risk damage to their braces, so it’s particularly important that those who wear braces discuss the best sports mouthguard solution with their dentist and/or orthodontist. Also, remember that kids with retainers or other removable orthodontic appliances should not wear them during sports activities. Invisalign trays are an exception, which can sometimes be worn with a mouthguard. Again, talk to your orthodontist about when and when not to wear them.

Keeping Mouthguards Clean

Teach your kids to treat their mouthguards as an extension of their oral hygiene.

  • Rinse off with cold water (not a sports drink) immediately after use. Then place it in a perforated container to transport it. This keeps it from being crushed by cleats, water bottles, or other items that may be in your child’s sports bag or backpack.
  • When it’s time to brush and floss, brush the mouthguard with a small bit toothpaste or clean with soap and water. Then rinse it well and place it back in its case.
  • Protect the mouthguard from extreme temperatures (dashboards of cars, boiling water, etc.).
  • Protect the mouthguard from cats and dogs. Cats are great at knocking mouthguards off counters; to dogs, mouthguards are chew toys.
  • If the mouthguard is a custom-made mouthguard, take it to your child’s regularly scheduled dental checkup and cleaning to ensure it still fits correctly.

Mouthguards Don’t Last Forever

You know how hard it is keeping your kids in clothes that fit. Well, the mouth changes as well. Depending upon how often your child participates in sports, you may wish to get a new mouthguard at the beginning of each new school year. More often for younger kids whose teeth are growing in.

Make an Appointment Today

Have one of our family dentists at Davis Gribble Hollowwa Dental take a look at your child’s mouthguard, talk to your child about the importance of wearing one for all sports, or even fit your child for one if you determine that is the best option. We have convenient hours that work around our most dedicated sports enthusiasts’ schedules, and our online appointment form is easy. Or call us at 505-898-1976.

Author Info

Dr. Connor Hollowwa

Dr. Connor Hollowwa is an Albuquerque native. He graduated from the Albuquerque Academy and went on to receive a BA from Rice University. His Doctorate of Dental Surgery is from Creighton University School of Dentistry. Before joining private practice he practiced at the state-of-the-art Isleta Health Center’s Dental Clinic, providing modern dental care for the members of the Pueblo of Isleta. In his free time he enjoys playing the piano, fly-fishing, golfing, and skiing.