Let’s Talk Mouth Guards
With Dr. Annalee Fencl of Northeast Iowa Pediatric Dentistry in Decorah, IA
With summer upon us, and with it summer camps, we’d like to talk about the importance of your child wearing a mouthguard while playing sports. Many people think that mouth guards are only for high contact sports, or for high school athletes. However, the American Dental Association recommends that they be used at whatever age your child begins to play sports where they are at risk of contact with another person, or a sport with high risk of head injury.
The sports for which the ADA recommends mouthguards be worn are: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Even if children aren’t at a level where they are making a lot of physical contact, making the mouthguard a part of the sports uniform is a great habit to start at a young age.
Not only do mouthguards help prevent dental injuries, they also help prevent concussions according to a study by peer reviewed journal, ‘General Dentistry.’ It is thought to absorb some of the shock that causes concussions. Another benefit is teeth grinding! If game nerves make your child clench or grind their teeth, a mouth guard can help alleviate the pressure.
A study by the ADA found that individuals are sixty percent times more likely to damage their teeth while playing sports if they are not wearing a mouth guard. The ADA also estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries per year. Although the number of sports related tooth injuries tops 600,000 per year.
Be sure to rinse your mouth guard with water after each use, and store in a container with holes for ventilation. Every week or so, submerge your mouthguard in hydrogen peroxide for a few extra cleaning.
As always, call our office with any questions!