Keeping Their Smiles Safe
We do a lot to keep our children safe and healthy. We strap them into those car seats for as long as possible, ensure they keep those seatbelts on, and chase after them with a helmet when they go on a bike ride. But when your child is active in sports, it can be hard to choose what to do to keep them safe. We want them to play, grow, and do what they love, but parents worry.
Did you know that up to 39% of dental injuries are sports-related? These can include tooth loss, damaged braces, or even cuts or sores in the mouth. Though this statistic is worrisome, we don’t want to pull our little ones out of sports altogether. So, how can we protect those smiles while still letting them play to their heart’s content?
Playing Sports with Braces
If your child is wearing braces, the chances of an injury to their mouth or teeth are high. The braces themselves are prone to damage when it comes to sports. But that doesn’t mean they have to avoid their favorite sport! They just might need to take some preventative measures to keep safe.
Think about how many professional athletes you’ve seen with braces. There are more than you might realize! Lashinda Demus, an American hurdler, wore them while winning the gold medal. Basketball player Dwight Howard wore them when he entered the NBA. Even the amazing Serena Williams had braces during her tennis career as a teenager! She switched to Invisalign when she turned 16.
The Mouth Guard Hero
Sometimes referred to as sports guards, mouth guards were developed to keep your little one’s teeth and mouth safe from injury. Most mouth guards cover just the top teeth, but depending on the situation, they will sometimes cover both the top and bottom. They can be custom made or store bought. You want to ensure they are comfortable for your child! Otherwise, they are less likely to wear them.
Kinds of Mouth Guards
There are three main kinds of mouth guards. They all have varying degrees of effectiveness, but they all will help decrease the severity of any sports-related injury. They will decrease the chances of tooth loss, breakage, or even wounds from braces against your child’s cheeks and gums.
Boil-and-Bite Mouth Guards
These are available at the majority of sporting goods stores. To use these, you place them in hot water to soften the material, then shape them to fit your child’s bite.
Ready-Made Mouth Guards
These mouth guards are ready to go straight out of the box! They don’t form to fit your child’s specific bite, but they can be effective at reducing the severity of sports-related injuries.
Custom Mouth Guards
Custom mouth guards are created by your child’s dentist. These are typically going to be the most comfortable and effective option because they are made specifically for your child and their desired sport.
Caring for Mouth Guards
Before and after each use, have your child rinse their mouth guard to get rid of any potential dirt or grime that could be hiding inside. Be sure they wash it regularly to dispense of any bacteria as well! When it’s not in use, they should store it in a perforated container to keep it safe from whatever else might be bouncing around in their sports bag. Your child should do what they can to keep it safe from high temperatures and store it out of direct sunlight.
The lifespan of a mouth guard is roughly six months, or whenever the sports season ends. After that, it’s time to replace their mouth guard with a brand-new one.
One of the scariest things about being a parent is knowing that accidents happen. We can do everything under the sun to keep our children safe, but sometimes they have an adventurous streak. If an accident does happen, whether it results in a broken, chipped, or missing tooth, or damage to the wires or brackets of their braces, be sure to call their dentist immediately. It is a good idea to seek orthodontic care immediately to keep their smile safe.
Other Protective Measures
If at all possible, avoiding sports with a higher chance of facial or dental injury can go a long way toward protecting your little one’s teeth. Whenever it is necessary, be sure your child wears a helmet, face shield, or a face mask. If your child plays a high-contact sport, be sure they are mindful of the impact potential.
We’re here for you and your little athlete!
If your child is participating in a sport this season, be sure to find out if they need a mouth guard! If it is suggested, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to help you find the right protective measure for your child to keep them smiling confidently.