4S Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
Dental injuries are a common consequence of collision or contact sports and recreational activities. Participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels are at risk of sustaining dental injuries at organized and unorganized, recreational, and competitive levels. Obvious sports requiring mouthguards would include football, boxing, and wrestling. Dental injuries are prevalent, however, in many other sports including basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, and gymnastics to name a few.
The habit of wearing a mouthguard can be established at an early age. The mouthguard should be worn during practices as well as during the game or competition. Since the size and shape of the mouth and dentition is constantly changing in the growing child, the mouthguard should be refitted at least yearly. A stable, non-changing permanent dentition is obtained usually around 12 through 14 years of age. At this time, the mouthguard can be changed less frequently, maybe every two years. Special modifications can be made to the mouthguard to allow children undergoing orthodontic care to continue mouthguard use.
The medical and dental community supports the use of a well-fitted mouthguard as the best available device for reducing the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries. Mouthguards provide a resilient, protective surface to distribute and dissipate the force of impact, thereby minimizing the severity of traumatic injury to the teeth and surrounding tissue. The mouthguard must be adapted well to the individual so that it can be worn comfortably allowing for adequate retention of the appliance, as well as satisfactory oral function such as swallowing and breathing. The best mouthguard is the one worn during sport activities. Custom mouthguards are considered by many to be the most protective option due to individualized fit, however, other mouthguards can be effective if they fit adequately, are worn properly, and can be retained in place.
Ask your dentist about mouthguards and their importance for anyone in your family involved in sports activities.