A mouthguard is a dental appliance that is made from a soft protective plastic. It offers protection for the soft tissues of the mouth in the event that the mouth sustains an injury or direct blow. It is important that both children and adults who participate in sports wear a protective mouthguard.
At Atlantic Dentistry we can provide guidance for parents looking for a mouthguard to offer protection when their children are on the field.
What Mouthguards Offer
Also known as a sports guard, the mouthguard is a protective device that is worn over the teeth when engaging in activities that could potentially bring a risk of injury with them. The device protects the inner cheeks, lips, tongue, and gums from being damaged by the teeth if there is a blow to the face or head. A well fitted mouthguard is an essential part of equipment for any person who participates in a sport that brings a risk of body contact, falls, or flying equipment. This could include baseball, basketball, wrestling, football, mountain biking, and hockey. In essence, any physical sport that could result in an injury to the mouth.
How Are Mouthguards Worn?
Mouthguards are typically worn over the upper teeth. If you or your child wear fixed braces or have other fixed dental appliances, it is suggested that you also wear a mouthguard over the lower jaw. The mouthguard slips comfortably over the teeth and stays in place until the game is over. A mouthguard that is made for you should not restrict your speech or your ability to breathe when you are playing.
Different Mouthguard Types
There are several options for mouthguards. Regardless of the mouthguard that you choose, it should be comfortable, durable, and it should fit properly. Custom made mouthguards are made for the individual. They provide the best in comfort and protection, as they are made just for your mouth and your teeth. An impression is taken of your teeth and the mouthguard is then constructed over the model of the teeth. Most athletes opt for custom mouthguards, due to the better fit and increased protection.
Stock mouthguards are readily available at most sporting goods stores. They are pre-formed and ready to be worn right out of the package. The major downside is that they do not offer the right fit. They can also be bulky and interfere with talking and breathing.
Boil and shape mouthguards are another option readily available. The preformed shape is heated in water until it softens. The athlete then bites into the warm plastic, to get a custom fit. They do offer a better fit than stock mouthguards, but there is still a margin of error that can potentially result in a poor-fitting appliance.
How Long Do Mouthguards Last?
Ideally, athletes should replace their mouthguards after each season ends. This is because mouthguards can wear down, thus becoming less effective. It is important that growing adolescents replace their mouthguards after each season as their mouth will continue to change and develop. Many athletes get a new mouthguard made at their routine six-month checkup or professional cleaning.
If you or your child have suffered any trauma to the mouth, and have bleeding, gum lacerations or dislodge teeth, this requires immediate dental intervention. Reach out to us at Atlantic Dentistry.