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When to Update Your Child's Mouthguard

As a parent, you already have a lot on your plate, so the last thing you want is a call from the coach or PE teacher telling you that your child needs to see a dentist immediately

With the frequency of sports-related mouth injuries so high and the spring season right around the corner, it’s a great time to protect your child’s teeth and mouth with an updated mouthguard. 

At Healthy Smile Dental, Hannah Baek, DDS, and her team can fit your child’s mouth with a custom guard so that you can go about your day without worrying about getting that dreaded phone call. 

Dental injuries from sports are more common than you think

Contact sports like football, hockey, and boxing are teeming with dental injuries, but even sports with less physical contact like basketball, soccer, and volleyball can be just as dangerous and pose a threat to your child’s dental health.

Even non-contact sports like gymnastics and sports that don’t involve equipment being hurled in your child’s direction can be dangerous. Generally, whenever your child is moving, especially when they’re among other moving children, they’re at risk for damaging their teeth and mouth.

One study in 2018 found that athletes who wear a custom-fitted mouthguard are 82-93% less likely to experience dental trauma. And as your child grows, their mouth shape changes, so it’s important to ensure they have an updated mouthguard this spring.

Keep your child’s teeth in place

Fortunately, a wide range of mouthguards is available today, each uniquely designed to cushion a blow and keep your child’s teeth --and jaw-- in place. Although this doesn’t take all the risk out of sports, it does help to reduce the chance of tooth breakage and loss.

There are three categories of mouthguards, and Dr. Baek can determine which type is best for your child’s mouth and sport:

1. Stock protectors

Stock mouthguards, or ready-made mouthguards, are available at just about any sports or big box store. Your child opens the package and pops the guard in their mouth. That’s it. Plus, they’re the least expensive type of mouthguard — but they have their drawbacks. 

Because stock mouthguards come in a range of sizes, you may have to purchase a few to get the best fit for your child’s mouth, and you may find it difficult to return an unwanted mouthguard. 

Though you may find a guard that basically fits your child’s mouth, you might discover that the fit isn’t ideal, which means that it may wobble in your child’s mouth as they run and play. This not only makes the guard uncomfortable but also offers less protection to your child’s mouth.

And let’s be honest -- many children conveniently “forget” things that hurt their mouths, and that mouthguard won’t protect anything if it lives at the bottom of your child’s backpack.

2. Mouth-formed (boil and bite) mouthguards

Boil and bite mouthguards are widely available, and they fit a little bit better than stock mouthguards. 

These types of guards are self-adapting, meaning it’s designed so that when you heat it, your child can put it into their mouth where it will conform to their specific teeth and bite. They do have to be fairly hot and malleable to be able to mold to their teeth, and many children find it uncomfortable to get the right fit.

3. Custom mouthguards

As you might expect, these are the most comfortable and effective mouthguards for your child to wear. To fashion these guards, Dr. Baek takes an impression of your child’s teeth and mouth and forms a mouthguard specifically for them, offering a perfect fit. 

Even though custom guards require a few visits to Healthy Smile Dental, you can rest easy knowing your child has the best possible protection for their teeth.

How to care for your child’s mouthguard

Once you’ve made the decision about which mouthguard is best for your child, remember to keep the guard clean and out of the sun. Mouthguards usually come with cases to separate them from dirty cleats and athletic equipment. Make sure your child gets in the habit of washing their guard thoroughly after every use and keeping it dry between uses.

To find the best mouthguard option for your child, call Healthy Smile Dental today, or book an appointment with Dr. Baek online.

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