Mouthguards and Fall Sports: Protecting Your Child’s Smile

In the rush to get your kids back to school, don’t forget a mouthguard!

School is just around the corner and that means the start of fall sports. While it’s a fun time for student-athletes, kids with braces can get severely hurt without proper mouth protection. Even in low contact sports, a stray ball, foot, or elbow to the face can cause broken teeth, dislodged wires and cut cheeks, lips, and tongues.

Fortunately, there are special mouthguards for children and teens who wear braces. These mouth guards are specifically designed to allow room for your child’s braces while offering the same level of protection of regular mouthguards.

Which One to Choose?

There are a few types of orthodontic mouthguards: the instant fit guard that fits over your teeth right out of the bag, a boil and bite style that is heated and formed to your mouth, and a guard that is custom made by a dentist using dental impressions.

Many factors including cost, longevity, dental benefits coverage, and of course patient comfort goes into choosing which appliance is best for your child or teen. Some dental insurance companies only cover a custom-made appliance, and possibly limit the number of times an appliance can be made. Many over-the-counter guards cover only the top teeth, and, depending on the sport, your child may need protection on both arches.

Boil and bite guards can usually be re-boiled and refitted a couple of times as the teeth change position, while a custom-made guard will need to be remade every few months as teeth shift around.

Store-bought guards may be less expensive, but mouthguards made by a dentist or custom fabricated in a lab are often the most comfortable and durable because they are made to precisely fit your child’s teeth using highly detailed dental impressions.

If a mouthguard isn’t required by the sport, a boil and bite or instant fit might do the trick. Some companies even sell special double mouthguards that protect both top and bottom arches. However, if your child plays a contact sport that requires mouth protection, a custom made appliance (fabricated by a dentist or in a professional dental lab) might be the best solution.

Regardless of the style chosen, make sure your child or teen cleans their mouthguard as soon as they get home. Never let the mouthguard sit in its case where mold and bacteria can grow. When you get home, have your child gently brush their mouthguard with toothpaste and rinse the guard thoroughly. Have your child rinse out the case too, and let both air dry before placing back with their gear.

Your child’s orthodontist can help you decide which guard is best for your child’s needs. With a little guidance, your student-athlete can stay healthy and active in the sport they love, while protecting their smile.

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