Back to school is just around the corner. Some parents wonder where the summer went, while others secretly can’t wait to get their kids back on a schedule!  After two months of fun, most kids aren’t ready to run back into the classroom, but many are excited for school sports.  Whether it’s basketball, football, or lacrosse, school often renews focus on these competitive extracurricular activities.  We have long recommended mouth guards when children and adults play contact sports, specifically custom made mouth guards.  The American Dental Association has reported that faceguards and mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 orofacial injuries in football alone this year. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports that dental injuries are the most common orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports. Surprisingly, non-contact sports have twice the number of dental injuries as contact sports because mouth guards are generally thought to be unnecessary.

As parents, it is your obligation to make sure your child is properly protected from oral trauma in sports by having your pediatric dentist fabricate a form-fitting mouth guard.

There are several types:

  1. Stock: These are available over-the-counter at sporting goods stores. Just open the package and place the mouth guard directly into the mouth. This type is held in place by constant biting pressure, and otherwise has no retention. Because on impact it can easily dislodge, this mouth guard is considered to offer the least amount of protection. Speaking is also difficult with this type of mouth guard.
  2. Boil and Bite: This type is the most commonly used today. This mouth guard is also purchased over-the-counter at sporting goods stores, or made in the locker room by coaches. To fabricate the mouth guard correctly, the athlete is asked to bite down during the forming process while the material is soft and pliable. The boil and bite mouth guards have a dramatic decrease in thickness (70%-99%) during forming, thus providing the athlete with a false sense of protection.
  3. The multi-laminated heat/pressure mouth guard fabricated by our laboratories is the treatment of choice for the ultimate in orofacial athletic protection. This mouth guard offers an appropriate thickness and therefore will deliver the safest and most appropriate protection for the athlete. When an impact happens, shock absorption will occur and there will be an equal distribution and transfer of the impact forces throughout the mouth guard, thereby minimizing the chance for concussion and other serious injuries.

The American Dental Association just cited a recent article by the Australian Dental Association reaffirming the importance of custom made mouth guards.  Check it out for more info about how a famous hockey player’s dental injuries could have been greatly diminished if he had just worn a better-fitting, customized mouthpiece.

Beware, the second article’s picture is graphic.