Your child’s got teeth? Want to keep them safe? Make sure their teeth are protected during all the sports in which they participate, whether the activities are recreational or organized.
April is National Facial Protection Month, and it is time to spread the word about the importance of using mouth guards. Mouth guards are appliances that protect the teeth, lips and cheeks from injury. They should not be confused with night guards, which are designed differently and function to protect teeth from grinding and clenching.
There are many types of mouth guards, and they can be custom made by your dentist or bought over the counter in sports stores and pharmacies. The custom-made ones, which offer the best protection, are made by your dentist who uses a mold of your child’s teeth. Custom-made mouth guards hold your child’s teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.
The over-the-counter ones basically come down to two types. One is a boil-and-bite type, in which you boil the mouth guard then conform it to your child’s teeth using your fingers. The second is a stock mouth guard, which tends to be bulky. If your child is wearing braces, he/she will need either a custom-mouth guard or a stock-mouth guard. The boil-and-bite types will stop your teeth from moving if you are wearing braces, but are a great alternative when you don’t have braces on.
Overall, a mouth guard is a wise investment. The cost is small compared to the fees associated with emergency care of a broken or knocked-out tooth. To maximize the use of a mouth guard, your child will need to take proper care of it. Be sure he/she washes it in cool, soapy water and rinses it off well before and after each use. For even more protection against germ build up, make sure your child brushes the guard with a toothbrush and toothpaste before and after every use. And, make sure he/she doesn’t chew on the mouth guard, doesn’t wear removable retainers with the mouth guard and replaces his/her mouth guard when it shows signs of wear and tear.
The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation predicted that last year more than three million teeth would be knocked out. So, please share this information with your child’s teammates and coaches. Remember, you only have one set of teeth so treat them well.