Why Your Athlete Needs A Mouthguard

Why Your Athlete Needs A Mouthguard
Posted on 10/04/2019

Why Your Athlete Needs A Mouthguard

As a family orthodontist, we understand that some parents encourage their children to stay active with sports. Whether you are or are going to be an Anacortes Seahawk, Bellingham Red Raider, Sehome Mariner or Squalicum Thor, we love all of our area athletes here at Derek Damon Orthodontics. While athletic activity is great, your children’s orthodontist wants to make sure you and your child understand the importance of athletes wearing a mouthguard during play, especially if your athlete has any type of braces

Dangers Of Physical Contact Sports To Teeth

According to a Sports Health Journal article on dental injuries in athletes, more than 5 million teeth are torn out or separated from the mouth in the United States every year, which adds up to almost $500 million in cost for care. While it’s sometimes difficult to nail down exactly how many dental injuries there are from sports, several studies cite up to 80 percent of participants have some type of dental injury. If your son or daughter is stepping out onto the basketball court, football field, hockey rink or martial arts mat, they are at the highest risk for dental injuries. But even non-contact sports have a risk of dental injury. Sports like tennis still carry a risk for injury if the ball or racquet comes in contact with the mouth. One study showed that there is five times the risk for dental trauma in basketball compared to football, possibly because of the mouth guard protection required in football.

Long-Term Effects Of Tooth Injuries

At the child or adolescent age, your child’s teeth are either baby teeth or new permanent teeth that are still growing and shifting. Your child’s jaw is also still moving and growing through the teenage years. The lower jaw grows most during puberty, which is around 12-14 years old for girls and 15-17 years old for boys. If your child receives injury or trauma to his or her mouth and they lose a baby tooth early, their permanent teeth that grow in after may grow in slanted, rather than straight. Losing a permanent tooth could mean that the teeth around that empty space will shift into the empty space and continue to grow in crooked. This could require orthodontic treatment in the form of braces or Invisalign for your child to correct the crooked teeth or adjust a jaw alignment.

How Mouthguards Can Help Protect Your Athlete’s Teeth

Mouthguards can significantly reduce the risk of mouth injuries and the incidence of jaw fracture in athletes. The American Dental Association (ADA) and the Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD) recommend properly fitted mouthguards for a variety of recreational activities and sports that place children and adults at risk for oral injury. Derek Damon Orthodontics can recommend an over-the-counter mouthguard or a custom-fit one just for your child.

Types of Mouthguards

There are three main types of mouthguards:

  • Stock mouthguards.

This type of guard will fit loosely over your child’s upper teeth. They are not individually shaped and so, therefore, may get in the way of speech and proper breathing since your child will have to hold their upper and lower teeth together to keep the guard from moving. 

  • Self-adapted mouthguards.

For an over-the-counter mouthguard, this “boil and bite” type is recommended by Dr. Damon. The mouthguard can be individually shaped to your child’s teeth by boiling the guard in water and having your child bite into it while it is still warm. These mouthguards are moderately priced and usually stay in place. However, they are subject to bite-through problems and are not as strong as custom-made mouthguards over time.

  • Custom-made mouthguards.

As a prominent Bellingham and Anacortes area children’s orthodontist, Dr. Damon has made hundreds of custom-made mouthguards for his patients. He takes an impression of your athlete's mouth, makes a cast and then forms plastic around the cast. Custom-made mouthguards provide better protection, are more comfortable, and are more likely to stay in the mouth compared with other models. 

Caring For Your Mouthguard

Your athlete should care for his or her mouthguard by storing it in a plastic protective container and rinsing with lukewarm or cool water before and after each use. Mouthguards should also be checked for tears, distortion, and bite-through areas. You can clean your mouthguard with toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush and rinse it with mouthwash. 

Contact Your Children’s Orthodontist For More Information

We want your athlete to have a successful and injury-free sports career. Understanding the importance of mouthguards and working with your children’s orthodontist to make sure you have a mouthguard that fits well is imperative to maintaining a healthy smile while playing sports. We highly encourage you to require that your child with braces wear a mouthguard during all athletic activities and even during recreational activities that have a chance of injury to their mouths. If you have any questions about mouthguards or about beginning orthodontic treatment with Derek Damon Orthodontics, we’re here to help. Contact our Bellingham office at (360) 676-6060 or our Anacortes office at (360) 293-2888 to schedule your first free consultation or ask any questions about our services. We look forward to serving you!

Derek Damon Orthodontics

  • Bellingham Location - 3400 Squalicum Pkwy., Suite 101, Bellingham, WA 98225 | Phone: 360.676.6060
  • Anacortes Location - 1220 22nd St., Suite A, Anacortes, WA 98221 | Phone: 360.293.2888

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