Dr. Paddy and Dr. Castro go to great lengths as pediatric dentists in Central Park and Englewood, CO to keep their patients’ smiles healthy. Hey, they’ve even given away a go-kart and perfected their floss dance all in the name of oral health! While when dental treatment is necessary, we use the latest technology and techniques to make it quick and comfy, the absolute best thing you can do for a child’s smile is focus on prevention. Of course, brushing and flossing play important roles in warding off cavities and keeping little teeth looking and functioning at their best, but there is something else that’s super important and often overlooked: mouthguards! Dental injuries in sports lead to a lot of missing teeth. In fact, more than five million teeth are knocked out each year in the United States and the majority of these incidents occur during sports or physical activity. That’s why we’re such big proponents of mouthguards for kids and we’re an authorized provider of Under Armour Performance Mouthwear. Read on to learn more about our favorite piece of sports’ equipment.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a flexible appliance that slips over the teeth. It not only protects the teeth themselves, it also dissipates some of the force from a blow and acts as a barrier between the teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth to keep cuts at bay. Typically, they’re just used on the top teeth, since these are in front of the lower teeth and are more susceptible to damage. There are three main types of mouthguards:
- Stock Mouthguards – These mouthguards are a one-size-fits-all type deal and the least expensive option. You can grab them off the shelf at any sporting goods’ store. While they’re better than nothing, they’re bulky and the fit isn’t great. This means, the amount of protection is limited, they can be uncomfortable and they often interfere with breathing and speech.
- Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards – The boil-and-bite varieties can also be found at most stores and they’re a cheap option. You soften them in hot water and mold them to fit your child’s mouth. They are a better choice than stock mouthguards but they’re not always made from the highest quality materials and they too can be on the bulky side, making breathing and talking challenging.
- Custom Mouthguards – A custom mouthguard is created by a dentist based on an impression of your child’s mouth. You’ll get a perfect fit. At Kids Mile High, we’re a provider of Under Armour mouthguards, which are made from innovative materials. They have cutting-edge features to give kids the best protection without affecting their speech or breathing. They can even improve sports performance, which we’ll get to shortly.
Why are Mouthguards for Kids Important?
Orofacial and dental injuries (fancy ways of saying injuries to the teeth and mouth area) happen frequently in sports. The most common are knocked out, fractured, displaced or loosened teeth, cuts to the cheeks, tongue and lips, jaw fractures and dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). All of these are unpleasant at best and at worst, painful, expensive and time-consuming to fix. While parents know they need to get medical attention for lacerations, fractures or joint trauma, lost primary teeth need to be treated as well because kids’ baby teeth are really important. They play roles like chewing, saving space for the permanent teeth to come in properly and aiding in facial and speech development. Children aren’t the only ones who should wear a mouthguard either. Teens and adults will definitely want to protect their smiles too, since dealing with a lost permanent tooth is even more costly and time-consuming.
This information isn’t meant to scare you off from signing your kids up for sports. It’s just to illustrate how crucial mouthguards are. We love sports at KMH – we even play them in the office! – and we think they’re valuable for helping kids build confidence, get exercise, make friends and learn about teamwork and perseverance. Mouthguards are such an easy, affordable preventative measure and children can play on and reap the benefits of physical activity without worries of injury. Numerous studies on mouthguards and sports have illustrated that a well-fitted mouthguard can dramatically reduce orofacial injuries.
When Should Kids Wear Mouthguards?
Mouthguards for children’s sports aren’t always required. They’re typically mandatory in football, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey and wrestling (when the wrestler wears braces) but not for much else. Unfortunately, sports like basketball and baseball have surprisingly high rates of dental injury. So, when should kids’ wear mouthguards? We recommend popping one in for all sports or physical activities where there is a chance of facial trauma or collision, including ones where it’s not in the rulebook, such as baseball, softball, basketball, bicycling, skateboarding, soccer, tennis, volleyball, skiing, martial arts, gymnastics and more.
What are the Best Mouthguards for Kids?
A custom mouthguard is the way to go because mouthguards are only really effective if they fit properly. Since a custom one is based off an impression of the mouth, it’s designed specifically for your child’s smile. A custom mouthguard will last longer, give you superior protection and there won’t be any interference with breathing or speaking or pressure on the gums and teeth. Dr. Paddy and Dr. Roger love Under Armour mouthguards and KMH is an authorized Under Armour Performance Mouthwear provider. We haven’t found a better brand or quality of mouthguard.
There are regular Under Armour mouthguards geared towards protecting the teeth and dissipating forces should your child fall or get hit in the face. For serious little athletes, there’s also the ArmourBite® Mouthguard featuring the company’s patented Power Wedges™. This model is for contact sports and covers the teeth, as well as reduces impact from blows to the jaw. Since athletes tend to clench their jaw when they’re training or competing, it creates space to counteract clenching. When the jaw is relaxed, kids get better airflow, which is awesome for endurance, strength and reducing athletic stress to improve performance. For non-contact sports, such as running or golfing, the ArmourBite® Mouthpiece has the Power Wedges and is meant to give wearers the same performance benefits by relaxing the jaw.
When you visit our Central Park or Englewood, CO pediatric dental office, we’ll chat with you about what sports or physical activity your kiddo is involved in, what their needs are and help you decide on the right mouthguard model for them. We then create a 3D scan of their mouth and the Under Armour lab uses it to fabricate a custom mouthguard. It only takes a few minutes and you gain peace of mind knowing your little one is getting amazing smile protection.
Do Mouthguards Prevent Concussion?
We often get asked, do mouthguards prevent concussion? In the past, there were theories about mouthguards and head trauma and it was thought that by absorbing shock and reducing movement from a direct hit to the jaw, mouthguards could reduce the risk of concussion. A slew of anti-concussion mouthguard models hit the market soon after. However, there hasn’t been enough conclusive research to prove this is true and a mouthguard alone isn’t adequate to prevent concussion in sports like football or hockey. There are mouthguards, however, being created like those by Prevent Biometrics that can monitor concussions. While it can’t diagnose them, it measures head impact and directs coaches and trainers to run through the CDC concussion symptom checklist. Who knows what the future holds and it’s definitely an area to keep an eye on if your child is involved in contact sports.
There you have it: everything you need to know about mouthguards for kids. If you’re in the Denver area and have a child who plays sports, book an appointment at Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry in Central Park or Englewood for a custom Under Armour mouthguard. We’re here to help keep your child’s smile in tip-top shape!