Mouthguards: When and Why You Need Them

Along with the fall comes the sports season. And if you’re a parent, you probably do many things to protect your child while he or she is playing sports, such as buying them thick helmets, knee pads and other protective gear. However, you’re missing an important piece of safety equipment if you don’t make sure that your child has a mouthguard.

Mouthguards can be the difference between losing teeth in a hockey, baseball or football accident, and walking away unharmed. Recently, My Fox Alabama spoke to dental experts about the importance of mouthguards and why they are a key part of overall oral health.

“Kids playing all sports, not just contact sports like football, are at risk for a dental injury,” said Stephen Mitchell, D.M.D., associate professor in the University Of Alabama Department Of Pediatric Dentistry, quoted by the news source. “Though non-contact sports, basketball and baseball are the two biggest sports from which we see mouth injuries.”

Important for all sports

When you think of reasons why people need mouthguards, playing football, baseball, basketball and hockey are probably the first activities that come to mind. However, these aren’t the only activities that can put your teeth in danger.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children can lose a tooth while doing things such as gymnastics and tennis as well. However, certain sports do pose a greater risk than others. For example, in 2010 a hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks was struck in the mouth with a puck and lost seven of his teeth. Luckily, he was wearing a mouthguard, or else the damage could have been sufficiently worse.

“I dread picturing the degree of damage that the player might have sustained without wearing a mouthguard.” said ADA consumer advisor Matthew Messina, D.D.S., in a press release.

Furthermore, according to the ADA, studies have shown that people are up to 1.9 times more likely to sustain an injury to their mouth while playing sports if they do not have a mouthguard.

This is why it’s important for kids in all sports to have this vital piece of equipment.

Choose the right one

According to the ADA, the right mouthguard should be tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit the mouth well, and be easy to clean and durable. You can visit your dentist who can make a custom mouthguard for your child. However, there are guards that you can buy at a sports store that can also be effective.

The organization adds that like any form of athletic equipment, a mouthguard can wear out after a while and become less effective. If it tears, it may irritate the mouth and gums, which is why it’s important to replace a mouthguard when it is damaged.

Do your kids use mouthguards when playing sports? Let us know in the comments below!

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