Just like your child needs a helmet to protect her head, a properly fitting mouthguard should be a standard component of her sports equipment. However, a mouthguard must fit correctly to be effective. Did you know that your family dentist can help you choose the right size and even fit your little one for a custom mouthguard that accommodates her braces? Read on to learn how to protect your child's smile and prevent a trip to the emergency dentist.
Kids who play sports are at a higher risk for mouth injuries, but who wants to visit the emergency dentist instead of celebrating the big win? A sports mouthguard helps protect against dental emergencies such as broken or knocked out teeth, and can even minimize concussions. How do you know if your child's mouthguard is doing its job? First, check its fit. A well-fitting mouthguard should not feel loose in the mouth, or require your child to bite down to keep it in place. Difficulty breathing, talking or swallowing are also signs of a bad fit. The best way to ensure your child's mouthguard fits correctly is to visit your family dentist, and consider having a custom mouthguard made.
Generally, a custom fit mouthguard that is made by your dentist to conform precisely to the shape of your child's mouth will offer the most comfort and the best fit. Custom mouthguards are the least bulky, making them a joy to wear, and can be personalized with your child's name and team. All of this helps your child to get used to the idea of wearing a mouthguard and ensures it won't be "forgotten" in the locker room. A custom mouthguard is also the best option if your child has braces.
Non-custom, generic mouthguards fall into two types: "boil and bite" and stock. Stock mouthguards may come in a few predetermined sizes, but generally don't offer a good fit for most people. However, they are the least expensive, and still offer protection, provided you can find one that fits your child. "Boil and bite" mouthguards are an intermediate between custom and stock. Boiling them temporarily softens the material, allowing it to mold to your child's teeth. This type is also relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, both "boil and bite" and stock mouthguards are bulky and may make breathing or talking more difficult, making it harder for your young athlete to get used to wearing his mouthguard.
For a mouthguard to do its job, it must be kept in good condition. Rinse and dry your child's mouthguard between uses. You can clean it with cool water and soap, or a toothbrush and toothpaste. Store it in a container with vent holes to allow the moisture to evaporate. Regularly inspect the mouthguard for signs of damage. If any damage is visible, or your child has outgrown his mouthguard, it should be replaced. Feel free to bring the mouthguard to your regular appointment with your family dentist for a fit check.
If your child wears braces, you may have found it difficult to find a mouthguard that fits him. However, braces make it particularly important to wear one to prevent injuries or damage to the brackets requiring emergency treatment. Your dentist can create a custom fitted mouthguard that accommodates your child's braces with minimal bulk, allowing your little one to play on safely and ensuring the mouthguard doesn't interfere with the braces' work.
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