The Importance of Wearing a Mouthguard In Youth Sports

Protecting your teeth with a mouthguard

More than 35 million children participate in some type of sport each year. Whether it’s football, baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, etc., playing sports is a fun and rewarding experience that helps children develop social skills while keeping them physically fit. However, certain types of sports can leave children vulnerable to tooth loss, gum damage, and tongue injury when precautions are not taken.

A mouthguard is simple piece of plastic that plays an important role in protecting young athletes from tooth loss and mouth injury. Also referred to as mouth protectors, they are designed to fit in between the upper and bottom teeth. When the child bites down on the mouthguard, it offers greater stability and protection against blows to the mouth.

To put the importance of mouthguard’s into perspective, a recent study found young athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer damage to their teeth when they aren’t wearing a mouthguard. This small piece of plastic secures the teeth so they aren’t knocked out of place.

Think of a mouthguard as a safety tool that distributes the energy of a forceful blow throughout your mouth. If a child who isn’t wearing a mouthguard is hit in the mouth with a baseball, all of the energy is compressed into a single area, thereby increasing the risk of tooth loss or severe damage. If this same incident occurs to a child who is wearing a mouthguard, the energy of the baseball will be distributed throughout the mouth thanks to the mouthguard, which will greatly reduce the possibility of injury.

Most mouthguard’s fall under one of the following categories:

  • Stock: The most commonly used type of mouthguard, stock mouthguard’s and inexpensive and easy to find. The downside is that they come pre-formed, so you cannot adjust them to better fit your mouth.
  • Boil-and-Bite: A more customizable form of protection, boil-and-bite mouthguard’s are first placed in a pot of boiling water before inserted into the mouth. This softens the mouthguard so it contours to the shape of the child’s teeth.
  • Custom: As the name suggests, custom mouthguard’s are professionally made by dentists and orthodontists to fit a child’s mouth. They cost more than stock and boil-and-bite mouthguard’s, but they tend to offer greater comfort and better protection against injury.

Talk with one of our dentists for more advice on choosing the right mouthguard for your child. Each and every child’s teeth are shaped and arranged differently, and using the wrong type of mouthguard could greatly reduce its effectiveness. To schedule an appointment, call Little Rock Family Dental Care today at 501-954-9900.