As schools slowly begin to open up and kids return to the classroom, school and club sports are seeing a welcome resurgence. And, while protective masks and the possibility of vaccines for kids become can protect our children from COVID-19, parents shouldn’t forget the importance of mouth guards to reduce the risk of mouth and tooth injuries.
Each year, more than 1 million student-athletes suffer serious mouth and tooth injuries while playing sports. An often-overlooked piece of sports safety equipment can make a huge difference – mouth guards – which can save children and parents the pain and expense of injuries that result in tooth loss or more extensive damage.
Unfortunately, many children – more than four of every five participating in organized youth sports – skip wearing a mouth guard, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
That’s a big mistake. More than 25 million children participate in competitive sports in the U.S., and many of those children suffer injuries on the court or field. About 15% of those injuries are to the mouth, according to the American Dental Association.
Athletes without a mouth guard have a much greater chance (as much as six times) of sustaining an injury to the mouth, according to the National Youth Sports Foundation.
Mouth guards range in protection and price. Custom-fitted mouth guards are more costly and provide the most comfortable and secure fit. A dentist takes a mold of your mouth and sends it to a lab to make the mouth guard.
Over-the-counter mouth guards are a lower cost option. This type requires softening the mouth guard in boiling water and then biting down on it to secure the mold.
If you have sensitive teeth, some mouth guards only require warming in a tepid bowl of water. And a few brands offer an instant-fit material made from a gel that automatically molds to your specific bite, which means you can wear it right out of the package.
Whichever type you choose, any protection you can give your child is a good thing. As we begin to overcome the dangers of COVID, equipping your child with a mouth guard will give them an added layer of protection from mouth and teeth injuries.