There are many benefits to physical exercise and activities such as organized sports: they help to keep your body healthy, are great stress relievers, and allow you to have fun while being part of a team. If you’re the parent of a child who plays sports, however, you probably already know there’s a downside, too: dental injuries! According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), sports cause almost 40% of all dental injuries in children. It’s important to protect your child’s smile for cosmetic and health reasons, something the team here at Daniel & Jones Orthodontics can help with!
We’re committed to creating healthier smiles for kids in Central Arkansas, and part of that involves teaching our young patients how to keep their teeth safe on the field or the court. One of the easiest ways to do this is by wearing a mouthguard regularly. Dental sports injuries can result in costly and extensive treatment, but mouthguards can help prevent trauma and orthodontic emergencies like:
- tooth damage
- tooth loss
- broken or chipped teeth
- abrasions or cuts on the cheeks, lip, or tongue
- broken brackets or wires
The good news is that orthodontic patients can still safely participate in any sport they usually would as long as they take steps to protect their mouths. Let’s look at what that entails and how you can keep your child’s smile safe while they’re in braces!
Mouthguards: a simple and effective solution
Mouthguards come in both regular and orthodontic models. These tend to be affordable, effective, and widely available. However, you should know which model best fits your child’s needs since it only takes a small amount of pressure on their braces to irritate the gums or cheeks.
Regular mouthguards offer some level of protection, but they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up as it sits in the mouth. Because this molds the mouthguard to the teeth and brackets, it can’t move with the teeth as they shift towards their new positions. This can interfere with the straightening process, which could lead to extra appointments or longer treatment times for some patients.
On the other hand, orthodontic mouthguards are specifically designed for orthodontic patients to fit over traditional brackets. Instead of a thermoplastic material, they use high-grade silicone that adapts to changes in tooth position. This material and design also provides better cushioning for the lips, preventing them from bumping up against the teeth and braces. This offers a more comfortable fit and a reduced risk of injury.
Who should wear a mouthguard?
Anyone who plays sports would benefit from a mouthguard, but patients who wear braces may find them especially helpful. While dental injuries are common among athletes, many of these can be prevented with a properly-fitted mouthguard! We recommend a mouthguard for anyone who plays competitive or recreational sports, particularly if impacts or collisions are likely to occur.
Are there different types of mouthguards available?
There are typically three types of mouthguards available: stock, mouth-formed, and custom-made. Although these models vary in cost, comfort, and protection levels, wearing any one of them is safer than not wearing any mouthguard at all!
Stock mouthguards are ready-made, so there’s no need for a trip to your child’s dentist or orthodontist. They can usually be found over-the-counter in most sporting goods stores, but be aware that they come in a more limited range of sizes. Stock mouthguards also require the mouth to be shut to keep them in place. Since they aren’t customized to each patient, these models may be less effective than others.
This type of mouthguard softens when placed in hot water. Once it’s cooled down, it’s placed in your child’s mouth to set as the pressure of their bite shapes it. This results in a more personalized option that can still be readily purchased at many sports stores or ordered online. Our team can help your child with a final molding if needed.
You’ll find custom mouthguards in most dental and orthodontic offices. These appliances are created using an impression of your child’s mouth, which provides them with the most accurate and comfortable fit possible. This option is a bit more costly and does require a visit to our office, but the customized protection they offer can’t be beat!
Whatever type of mouthguard you choose for your child, you’ll want to ensure it fits in their mouth comfortably and securely. It should also have high-impact energy absorption, be easy to clean, and never restrict their breathing in any way.
What happens if there’s an orthodontic emergency?
Mouthguards are an excellent way to protect your child’s smile, but accidents can still happen. True orthodontic emergencies tend to be rare, but they do occur from time to time. When we talk about orthodontic emergencies, we’re generally referring to:
- any serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in the teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If your child’s mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports (or at any other time), let us know as soon as possible so Dr. Daniel or Dr. Jones can assess their smile. Depending on the circumstances, an emergency appointment may be recommended. If you feel that a visit to urgent care or the ER is necessary, don’t hesitate to go! Just be sure to call our office and let us know. Our doctors will likely still want to see your child to ensure there’s no damage they need to address.
Keep your child’s smile safe with help from Daniel & Jones Orthodontics
Your child may be tough, but even a minor dental injury can be upsetting. That’s why we recommend mouthguards for every athlete! Daniel & Jones Orthodontics is dedicated to helping kids in our community continue playing the sports they love while we give them a more confident smile. Have questions about how to protect your child’s mouth throughout the treatment process? Get in touch any time, and we’ll be happy to discuss the options with you!