The Importance of Mouth Guards for Your Young Athlete

Young BoxerThough early March is still cold and dreary, spring is just around the corner. With the warmer temperatures come picnics, gardening, and, of course, spring and summer sports. While athletics are certainly a great incentive to get your child up and moving, sports can also raise the risk of dental damage such as a lost, cracked, or chipped tooth. Your Rochester, MN dentist strongly urges you to invest in an athletic mouth guard to protect your child’s teeth during high-contact sports.

When to Use a Mouth Guard

The American Dental Association® recommends that athletes of all ages use a mouth guard during high contact sports such as boxing, wrestling, hockey, and football. However, dentists also recommend protective devices for athletes in non-contact sports. For example, if your child is a gymnast or skater, you may still want to invest in a mouth guard. These devices will protect your child’s teeth, gums, lips, and tongue in the event of a fall or misjudged landing. According to a 2007 study, athletes who do not wear mouth guards are nearly two times more likely to suffer an oral injury than athletes who do wear protective gear.

Different Types of Mouth Guards

There are three primary types of mouth guards available:

  • Stock Mouth Guards: These devices are premade and can be found in nearly all sporting goods stores. Stock mouth guards come in three standard sizes (small, medium, and large), and they are the cheapest type mouth guards, typically running between $3 and $25 each. To hold stock mouth guards in place, athletes must constantly bite down on them. Not only does this prevent them from talking, it can also inhibit breathing and athletic performance. Additionally, because stock mouth guards are not custom-fit, they do not offer maximum protection for your teeth.
  • Boil and Bite Mouth Guards: These mouth guards are also available at most sporting good stores. Made of thermoplastic material, you should drop them in boiling water to soften. When they are cool enough, your young athlete should place the device in his or her mouth. Using their fingers and tongue, they should carefully shape the material so that it fits closely around their teeth. Though boil and bite mouth guards do not always offer total protection to the molars, they are a much safer alternative to stock mouth guards.
  • Custom Made Mouth Guards: For maximum protection and safety, your dentist can create a mouth guard in the office, based on impressions of your child’s teeth. Though these devices may cost more than the pre-fabricated mouth guards you can buy at the sporting goods store, they offer maximum protection and are definitely a worthwhile investment.

About Dr. Calcagno: To learn more about athletic mouth guards and to find out how you can protect your child from dental damage, call Dr. Gilly Calcagno at (507) 281-3659. She proudly treats patients of all ages in Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and the surrounding areas.