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Mouth Guards for All Sports

By Dr. Meenakshi Madhu

Parents know that kids should wear mouth guards for football and hockey, but few realize that their kids should be wearing them for all sports activities. The American Dental Association estimates that 10-20% of all sports related injuries are facial traumas. So, having a mouth guard in place can save a child a lot of pain and dental-intervention. This is true for young children just starting in soccer classes with their baby teeth, as well as older students playing tennis on the court.

Maxillofacial injuries can include broken teeth, root fractures, twisted teeth, and having a tooth knocked out. Most of these situations need immediate dental intervention, and most can be prevented with a simple guard. These sports guards don’t have to just be the ones we make in-house. Mouth guards can be picked up at sports outlets and drug stores. There are ones that come as standard fit, as well as ones you boil and that take a mold of the teeth for a more custom bite.

When it comes to picking mouth guards, how it feels is the most important. A good fit should be comfortable, not restrict speech or breathing, and be resilient when clenched or jostled. Even kids with braces have no excuse to avoid mouth guards. The over-the-counter variety that you can boil to mold to the teeth can give a great fit with great protection.

Sports that focus more on running than impact also need sports guards. Soccer players are eight times more likely to sustain dental injuries than the mouth guard-wearing football players. And just imagine a fall while doing gymnastics. The chance of serious injury is very present.

And don’t just toss that guard into the moist gym bag. Mouth guards should be rinsed before and after each use and cleaned with soap and water or toothpaste and toothbrush between uses. Otherwise they will hold on to some very unpleasant bacteria. Not to mention that dogs like to get hold of them, so keep them clean and away from pets.

Sports guards should be replaced every 6-10 months, so keep an eye on fit and if there are any light fractures forming in the guard’s plastic. If you aren’t sure about if it is time to get a new one, go ahead and replace it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And next time you come in to the office, bring your mouth guard with you and we can check the fit and give it a good cleaning.

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