Should My Child Wear a Mouthguard for Sports?
Over half of all children play at least one sport in school or in their community during their high school years. And that’s a good thing, since playing sports provides a number of benefits to your child’s health and wellbeing, such as:
- Improved physical fitness and cardiovascular endurance
- Increased self-esteem and self confidence
- Better academic results
- Increased life skills
- Reduced stress and depression
Alongside these advantages, kids who play sports also obtain key leadership abilities that will serve them well as they navigate through life.
However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) notes that there are many orofacial injuries occurring due to sports that are causing a significant number of facial and dental injuries to children. In a recent thirteen-year period, there were 22,000 of these injuries in children under 18. That is 31.6 dental injuries for every 100,000 children studied. Further reviews found that up to 61% of athletes reported a dental trauma.
For this reason, the AAPD highly recommends that mouthguards are worn during athletic activities. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety seconds that suggestion. They report that athletes who do not wear protective mouthguards are 60% more likely to sustain damage to their teeth, making it obvious that wearing a mouthguard is essential for preventing dental injuries.
What Types of Dental Injuries Typically Happen During Sports?
In any given sports season, at least 10% of players will end up with a facial or dental injury at some point during the athletic season. While these can be widely varied, the three most common include:
1. Cracked Teeth
Taking a hit to your face can result in a tooth that is cracked or fractured. Sometimes, these present as longitudinal cracks that dentists label “craze lines.” These lines are not at high risk for causing issues as they are superficial, affecting only the top layer of enamel. However, if the split in the tooth starts at the crown and moves downward, the tooth is cracked. Typical symptoms include:
- Sharp pain when biting down
- Pain in the tooth that comes and goes
- Pain when eating hot or cold foods
- Exposed layers of your tooth
Believe it or not, a cracked tooth is not always apparent to the naked eye, and you can have one and not have any symptoms. Only an exam by a dental professional will be able to uncover the damage. If the crack goes beyond your gumline, the tooth may require a root canal or even extraction.
2. Fractured Tooth Roots
A blow to the face from a certain angle can fracture the root of the tooth. Typically, fractured roots start at root level and then work their way to the surface of the tooth. Because they are invisible, you may only notice them when an infection develops.
3. Intrusion of Teeth
Sometimes, a blow to the face can drive teeth back into your jawbone, causing a trauma called tooth intrusion. It’s particularly common in baby teeth because the bones that hold the tooth sockets are weaker in children than adults. When this occurs, the tooth’s pulp can die completely, be shortened, or even be fused to the bone.
To prevent these and other injuries to your mouth and teeth, always wear a mouthguard when playing sports. If your child sustains any injury to their head, face, or mouth during sports you should always schedule a dental appointment to rule out any unseen injuries. As we mentioned, some of these issues are not always visible to the naked eye. Having the expertise of your dentist, alongside leading-edge dental technology, to check over your child’s mouth for issues after a mishap is invaluable in preventing worse, more costly problems later.
How Do I Get a Mouthguard?
You can get a cheap mouthguard at a store, but they tend to be uncomfortable and not as protective as a custom version from your dentist. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and send that impression to a lab, which will create a custom-fitted mouthguard. Custom-creating your mouthguard will ensure it not only offers the highest level of protection, but also that it is as comfortable as possible.
The more comfortable the mouthguard is, the more likely your child is to wear it. Other options for helping encourage your child to wear their mouthguard is to get one that is sparkly, sports a particular logo, or is in a color that your child likes. Some dentists even offer mouthguards that are available in different flavors to encourage more consistent wearing.
Remember, wearing a mouthguard during sports is essential. If your child sustains a serious injury to their mouth, replacing just one tooth is twenty times more expensive than paying for a custom-made mouthguard.
Does Your Child Need a Mouthguard for Sports in Cerritos?
If your child is one of the many taking advantage of team sports in the Cerritos area, you will want to ensure they are fully protected. At Dentist of Cerritos, we have the latest knowledge and technologies that will allow us to create a perfectly fitted custom mouthguard for your child.
And, if your child sustains an injury to the head or face while playing sports — or any other time — please don’t hesitate to make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible. The faster we can diagnose and treat an injured tooth, the better the outcome will be.