Benefits of mouth guards for kids in contact sports
The spring and summer sports season is here and many kids are anxious to get out and join a new sport or activity. But no matter if it’s played indoors or outdoors, parents are just as anxious to protect their children with the proper safety equipment. While items such as helmets, shin guards, knee pads and wrist protectors are often obvious choices, parents can miss out on adding a mouth guard to protect their child’s mouth and teeth.
“Many parents would be surprised to learn that even a simple elbow to the jaw can cause serious injury to the teeth and jaw, including dislocation, soreness, missing teeth, and even a possible concussion,” said Dr. Aubey Banack, Orthodontist at The Scarborough Hospital. “As well, it has been shown that athletes are 60 times less likely to experience tooth damage when wearing a mouth guard.”
Other benefits of mouth guards include:
Prevents tooth chipping and cracking – Properly fitted mouth guards prevent teeth from knocking together and chipping or cracking during contact sports, which can lead to root and bone damage.
Helps align the jaw and enhance performance – When a person is stressed or is concentrating during contact sports, their jaw often automatically clenches, which strains the facial muscles. Using a mouth guard may help relax the jaw and allow for proper alignment, which may lead to improved performance. Proper jaw placement also allows more room for the tongue in the mouth and opens airways, allowing athletes to breathe better.
Prevents neck injuries and concussions – Mouth guards may also help to disperse and absorb most of the shock of an impact, which may minimize the negative effects to the jaw, neck and brain.
Prevent mouth lacerations – When teeth are protected from contact with the soft tissue of the lips and cheeks, many soft tissue lacerations, sores and bruises can be avoided. It is especially important that mouth guards be worn by those with braces for this reason.
Children who play contact sports can choose from several different types of mouth guards, including preformed mouth guards which are sold ready to wear; boil and bite mouth guards sold at sports equipment stores customizable to the athlete’s bite; and customized mouth guards that are fitted by a dentist.
Dr. Banack points out that no matter what type of mouth guard is chosen, it should be brought to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have the dentist examine it for proper fit. It is also important to replace your mouth guard each year.