Sports mouthguardsBy Jaime O’Neill DDS

One of the last things young athletes think about when playing sports is protecting their teeth. While it’s required to wear sports mouthguards in football, field hockey and ice hockey, it’s not common to wear them for basketball, lacrosse, soccer and other contact sports.

Yet facial injuries impacting teeth are common in all contact sports. Which is why wearing a sports mouthguard is so crucial. Consider:
.An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. [Source: American Dental Association]
.It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year.
[Source: Academy of General Dentistry
.Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year. [Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control]
.Victims of knocked out teeth who do not have a tooth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth.

Recognizing that your children need sports mouthguards for any contact sport they play is only part of the issue. Currently, almost 90 percent of all sports mouthguards are bought at sporting goods stores. But individual mouths and teeth are like feet; none are exactly alike. So if the store-bought mouthguard does not fit properly and is poorly made, it can do more harm than good.

If you are serious about protecting your children’s teeth while they play sports, then it’s best to visit your dentist and have a custom mouthguard made. There are many good reasons to do this, including:
.If they are young enough, your children’s teeth might still be growing. That needs to be considered when fitting them for a mouthguard.
.Perhaps your child is wearing braces. That’s another consideration in the fitting process.
.Custom-made sports mouthguards are made of resilient, tear-resistant materials. They are protective yet comfortable, are easy to clean and do not restrict breathing.

The process is simple. At the first appointment we take impressions of your child’s teeth and analyze and account for any unusual issues. The impressions are sent to a quality dental lab where the sports mouthguard is made. In a week or two it will be completed, at which time your child will return to us to try it on making sure it’s a good fit. We provide you with instructions on how to keep the mouthguard clean and with a container for storage.

Clear sports mouthguards are not allowed – officials in some sports need to know they are being worn – so we can make them in school colors or any color your child likes. Most important is the peace of mind you’ll have knowing your young athlete’s teeth are being protected by a quality, properly fitted mouthguard.