A dental mouthguard is an economic and effective way of preventing most dental injuries during athletic practices and games. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nearly 32% of injuries to the teeth and face happen while a child is playing sports. We believe that the use of a properly fitting mouthguard will help prevent or lessen those injuries. Whether it be a custom mouthguard made in our office or one bought at a store and formed at home, dental mouthguards should be used in all sports where children could suffer an injury to their teeth and face.
What Is a Dental Mouthguard?
A dental mouthguard is an economic and effective way of preventing most dental injuries during athletic practices and games. A mouthguard is typically made of soft, rubber-like material that is formed or fitted over the teeth to prevent injury. There are many types of mouthguards available. They can be made in our office or one can be bought “over-the-counter”. Based on your child’s age, dental status, sport, and tolerance, our pediatric dentists will make a recommendation on which type of mouthguard will work best.
Many sports make wearing dental mouthguards mandatory. Football, lacrosse, wrestling, hockey, among others make all players wear a mouthguard. Some of these sports have specific guidelines to which mouthguards are allowed. If you are interested in our office fabricating a mouthguard for your athlete, please inform us of any rules specific for your child’s sport. Sports such as basketball and baseball do not make mouthguards mandatory and thus make up a large portion of our dental injuries. If your child ever experiences a dental injury during a sporting event or practice, please contact us using our emergency dental phone number.
How is a dental mouthguard fabricated?
Making a custom dental mouthguard is a multistep process. Our pediatric dentists and dental team will help to make these appointments easy and comfortable for your child. If a custom mouthguard is indicated, the dental assistant will take a dental impression using a product known as alginate. The material is white in color, has little to no taste or smell, but is cold and has the consistency of oatmeal. This material is loaded into a dental impression tray that will be placed over the teeth to make an impression. Mouthguards can be make on either the top or bottom arch. Our pediatric dentists will help to decide which would be best for your child.
Once the dental impression is completed, a model will be made. This model is an exact duplication of your child’s mouth. The mouthguard made from this model should fit your child’s teeth snuggly. Occasionally a mouthguard will need to be adjusted for a more comfortable fit. Since we do not make another dental appointment for checking the fit of the mouthguard, please notify our office with any issues when your child tries the mouthguard on for the first time.
Always keep your mouthguard clean and in a safe place away from family pets. Dogs are notorious for destroying mouthguards. A mouthguard can be kept clean by gently brushing it with toothpaste. Occasionally, denture cleaning tablets can be utilized to clean hard to remove stains and unwanted odors from mouthguards.
Who will benefit from dental mouthguards?
Dental mouthguards should be used by any athlete involved in activities that could cause trauma to teeth. Many sports such as football and hockey make mouthguards mandatory. There are many sports that have the potential to cause tooth trauma that traditionally don’t make mouthguards mandatory. Sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, or even skateboarding have the potential to cause substantial injury to the face and teeth.
It is important that the chosen mouthguard fits properly. If the mouthguard is easily dislodged or does not fit over the teeth, there is still risk of injury. Many children like to play with or chew their mouthguards during practice and games. Many professional athletes can be seen chewing on their mouthguard. We want to encourage the appropriate wearing of the mouthguard to ensure proper protection.
When children are in their early to late teens and have all their adult teeth, a custom-made mouthguard is a great investment to protect their teeth. With so many changes that happen as children lose teeth, investing in a custom mouthguard might not be the best choice for younger patients. When teeth fall out and new teeth come in, a mouthguard may no longer fit properly and may become dislodged easily.
For patients in orthodontic treatment, mouthguards are very important. For those in full braces, dental mouthguards can be difficult to make for dentists and patients alike. Please consult your orthodontist or our office for recommendations.
For our patients who grind or clench their teeth, a dental mouthguard might be recommended. This is to help protect the enamel on the teeth from getting worn down. This is much more important with adult teeth versus baby teeth. For our younger patients, mouthguards might not be tolerated well and can be difficult to fabricate. Please let us know if you have any concerns with your child and their grinding and clenching habits.
When should a dental mouthguard be used?
Dental mouthguards should be used by any athlete involved in activities that could cause trauma to teeth. This includes both games and practices. A dental injury can not be anticipated or predicted. They happen at the least opportune times. If your child experiences a dental injury during normal office hours, we encourage you to call our office immediately. If an injury happens outside of normal office hours, we always have someone on-call to help. You can contact the dentist on-call by using our normal business phone number and following the prompts.
It is ideal to be prepared for a sports season by having a mouthguard ready for the first practice. If you believe your child would benefit from a custom dental mouthguard, please arrange an appointment for us to evaluate your child’s teeth. If a custom mouthguard is indicated, we will take an impression of your child’s mouth to fabricate a model of their teeth and gums. We use this identical model of your child’s teeth to make the mouthguard. It typically takes a few business days to make. We have you simply pick up the mouthguard at your convenience at our front desk. If there are any concerns with the fit or performance of the mouthguard, we can address those concerns at another appointment as needed.
Where should I have a dental mouthguard made?
Depending on the type of dental mouthguard that is recommended for your child, there are different places that are appropriate for a mouthguard to be made. Some mouthguards are made to protect without the need to fit the teeth exactly. These can be used right out of the box with very little adjustment.
Some dental mouthguards involve soaking them in hot water to help the material to mold around your child’s teeth. These are fairly easy to fit but do take a bit of skill to get the best results. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. We have helped many patients to fit this type of mouthguard if you find it difficult at home.
Custom dental mouthguards should be made in a dental office. We will take an impression of your child’s mouth to make the best possible fit. This is usually reserved for patients who have all of their adult teeth, however there are exceptions that are made for patients with mixed adult and baby teeth.