Does your child need a mouthguard for sports? Dental team in Citrus Heights explains
Sacramento is home to three professional sports teams and seven semi-pro clubs. Watch any player and you will likely notice him or her wearing a sports mouthguard. Does your child need the same type of protection for school sports or other activities? The experienced dental care team at Sacramento Natural Dentistry in Citrus Heights, CA thinks so. Keep reading to understand why they encourage this precaution.
Does your child in Citrus Heights need a mouthguard for sports?
Average human bite force on molars is 170 to 200 psi (considerably less for other teeth). A healthy mouth can withstand that pressure without damage. However, that applies to the intentional act of chewing, with teeth coming together predictably – up and down with some minor side-to-side articulation. The hard, brittle structure of teeth is not meant to withstand lateral force, such as a blow to the flat surface of front teeth. In addition, sudden force under the chin is directly transferred to jaws, causing teeth to snap together suddenly and hard.
This is the basis of dental injuries commonly associated with sports. The incidents that harm teeth can also cause soft tissue lacerations inside the mouth and concussion (a type of traumatic brain injury).
A sports mouthguard is a protector that slips over the upper arch of teeth, shielding them in two ways. First, it cushions teeth from direct impact. That helps to avoid a tooth breaking off from contact with a puck, piece of sports equipment, elbow, or the floor. Second, the device spreads impact over the entire arch, dissipating force on any one tooth or area. This may prevent a tooth from getting knocked loose (dislodged) or knocked completely out (avulsed) – either of which can lead to eventual loss of the tooth.
According to the CDC, Americans incur about 3.8 million concussions each year through participation in sports and other physical activities. Teenagers are most vulnerable, accounting for about 2.5 million of the concussions cited. Many of those events go unrecognized and untreated, possibly contributing to health issues later in life. There is some evidence that a properly constructed and fitted mouthguard reduces brain impact from a mouth injury, lessening risk or severity of concussion.
With modern restoration and tooth replacement options, most dental injuries can be repaired. However, wouldn’t you rather not see your child hurt, and avoid the expense and inconvenience of extensive dental treatment?
Whether or not required by the organization or team, insist that you child wear proper oral protection for any recreational activity that could result in impact to the face or mouth. Here are a few examples:
- Boxing or karate
- Horseback riding
- Roller skating
How do you get your kid to use a mouthguard dependably? Start early and make it a habit, not an option. That is a lot easier when the appliance fits snugly and comfortably. A properly fitted mouthguard allows normal breathing for optimal athletic performance, and the wearer can speak and drink water with it inserted.
Choosing the best type of mouthguard for your child
As a parent, you have several choices in your child’s oral protection.
You can pick up a stock mouthguard at any sporting goods or large retail store. It is made of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, or other type of co-polymer vinyl acetate or ethylene. This type of guard comes in a few generic sizes. The fit is unstable, and the device provides minimal protection. The material is also subject to “bite-through,” so a stock guard must be replaced often.
Mouth-formed or boil-and-bite mouthguards are also available at retail stores. The plastic mold is heated in boiling water then placed into the mouth, conforming somewhat to teeth by biting and sucking. This kind of guard provides a bit more cushioning. However, the fit is not ideal, and coverage over prominent front teeth is notoriously thin.
A custom-made mouthguard provides the highest level of protection and comfort. At Sacramento Natural Dentistry, the process begins with an oral assessment. Impressions are made of the patient’s mouth, then sent to a dental laboratory. The mouthguard is pressure- or vacuum-cast from the impressions. It is made of shock-absorbing BPA-safe thermoplastic material. The guard is resilient yet durable.
Personalized fit ensures the guard stays in place on the upper arch, while matching up properly with lower dentition, as well. A custom mouthguard can be designed for patients who wear braces – a cost-effective safeguard for your investment in orthodontic treatment.
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