The Best Mouthguard...Is One That Is Worn
By Julie R. Molina, D.D.S., M.S. & Robert D. Elliott, D.M.D., M.S., Cary Pediatric Dentistry
Summer is a busy time of year for children and adolescents who are involved in recreational activities and sports. Along with learning new skills, it is also important to be knowledgeable of the proper safety equipment for any given sport or activity.
The majority of sport-related dental injuries affect the face, lips, jaws and front teeth, with 50-80% of dental injuries involving the upper front teeth. An athletic mouth protector, or mouthguard, may protect the upper teeth. Studies have consistently shown that mouthguards offer significant protection against sport-related injuries to the teeth and soft tissues. They provide a resilient, protective surface to distribute and dissipate forces on impact, thereby minimizing the severity of traumatic injury to the hard or soft tissues.
Dentists and the American Dental Association recommend that people of all ages use a properly fitted mouthguard whenever you are involved in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, rollerblading and even gymnastics.
The unfortunate historical fact is that most kids do not choose
to wear a mouthguard – they have to be told to wear it and reminded time after time.
As pediatric dentists, we would encourage ALL COACHES to mandate that every child athlete wear a mouthguard. The “all or none” principle ideally would be applied – ALL participants must wear a mouthguard! (Because if the kids have a choice, usually none would.)
The best mouthguard is one that is worn during sport activities. Mouthguards can be purchased “over the counter” at sporting goods stores or professionally fabricated and dentist prescribed custom made. The company Shock Doctor© produces mouthguards for patients with braces, and are guards that protect the teeth or a combination of lip and teeth protection.
The bottom line: Any mouthguard works better than no mouthguard!
Please refer to your family or pediatric dentist if you have further questions or concerns regarding the proper mouthguard for your active family member so we may only have to see you during check-ups.
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