It’s fun to play tooth fairy if your child’s tooth falls out. It’s not so fun if it’s knocked out during your child’s soccer, lacrosse or baseball game.
How common is this? According to the National Youth Sports Foundation, about 3 million kids a year lose a tooth while participating in youth sports. Many other chip teeth, or sustain injuries to the lips, gums and tongue.
That’s why kids participating in sports should always wear mouth guards. Mouth guards are common in contact sports like football and wrestling. But many other spots – like soccer, gymnastics, basketball and baseball – often result in rough contact as well. I coached youth baseball teams for years and can tell you from experience that mouth trauma happens, even to the most accomplished athletes.
Three types of mouth guards are available:
- Ready-made mouth guards are available in different sizes
- “Boil and bite” mouth guards form to the mouth while the plastic is soft
- Custom-made mouth guards are specifically made for individuals
Using any of the above is better than using nothing. If you buy a ready-made or boil and bite mouth guard, just make sure it is tear resistant, fits properly and doesn’t restrict breathing.
Mouth guards also need to be tear-resistant and comfortable enough for your child to be willing to actually wear. Pre-made mouth guards can rub on cheeks or gums and be uncomfortable. If you purchase one of these and the fit doesn’t seem just right, you can often trim it. Better yet, bring it in to us and we can make some adjustments that might help.
Custom mouth guards are made from an impression taken of your teeth. They are comfortable and – most important – do a great job of absorbing impact because they are custom-fit for the mouth they are protecting. Our patients who use mouth guards tell us these custom-made guards are the most comfortable and longest-lasting.
Spring sports are here. Good advice for your children: Keep your eye on the ball — and wear a mouth guard!