“School has started and a new season of sports,” says Dr. Jamie Alexander, Boynton Beach’s local dentist. “As an advocate of protecting children from mouth injuries, I would like to remind the families in my Boynton Beach practice that children should begin the habit of wearing a mouth guard during sports at an early age, and their mouth guards should be replaced often as they grow. Your children may have outgrown their athletic mouth guards since last play season. As your children grow, so do the dimensions of their mouth. From season to season, we should check if the mouth guard they wore last season is now too tight. We should also check for signs of wear and make sure their mouth guard can protect them well.”
A custom mouth guard that is fabricated from an impression of your child’s mouth will fit best and thus provide the best protection.
Dentist-made mouth guards are not the same as mouth guards available for purchase in stores. Over-the-counter mouth guards do not fit snugly and are easily dislodged. They are bulky and uncomfortable to wear, so children often remove them or refrain from wearing them. Because of the bulk, they can also impede breathing.
“I know you want your children to enjoy their childhood without fracturing a tooth, knocking out a tooth, lacerating their lips, or injuring their jaw,” says Dr. Alexander. “And I know you want maximum protection in the event of a possible injury to the head or cervical spine. Evidence points to mouth guards effectively absorbing force to minimize concussions and neck injuries. That’s why they are required for many youth sports including Football (flag and tackle), lacrosse and hockey. So, whether your child or teen plays a contact sport or enjoys sports like skateboarding or bmx, be proactive and schedule an appointment for us to make a custom-fit mouth guard or to check the one they wore last season. In addition to tightness, be on the lookout for cracks and tears in the mouth guard. These are signs, it should be replaced.” For children that have teeth that are still being lost and adult teeth coming in, Dr. Alexander can estimate their growth and help provide an extra season of use.
Remember to properly care for your child’s mouth guard. This includes washing it with warm soapy water, rinsing it thoroughly, and drying it prior to putting it in the vented storage case provided with it. The storage case should also be washed and dried. Oral bacteria left on the mouth guard easily build up inside the mouth guard and case if moisture is present. Don’t use hot water to wash and rinse a sports mouth guard, as the heat could damage it. It’s also best to have your child brush their teeth prior to going to a game or practice. This will help minimize bacteria adhering to the mouth guard.