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Protecting Our Children’s Teeth: Does Your Child Need a Mouth Guard?

By Dr. Melissa McCool
From Reno Moms Blog

Now that school is back in session, all the extracurricular activities are gearing up and, for many of our children, this includes some form of sports. There are only a small number of sports that require kids to wear mouth guards, but just because it is not a requirement, does not mean a mouth guards aren’t necessary.

Most children start getting their permanent incisors between the ages of 6-8 years old. Baby teeth are wonderful, and they give us an opportunity for second chances, but once the permanent teeth come in, we have to treat them like gold because we want them to last throughout our lifetime. This includes proper diet, good hygiene practices and protecting them from trauma.

In our practice, we have seen trauma from soccer (being hit in the mouth by an opponent’s head), basketball (getting elbowed in the face, even a tooth getting caught in a net during a dunk), baseball (a grounder taking a bad hop, or a line drive to the face), and even wakeboarding (falling and taking a hit from the board to the face). And, unfortunately, children with overbites are at an even higher risk of dental trauma. The great news is that there is a cheap and easy fix.

At most any sporting goods store, you can find “boil and bite” mouth guards in a range of sizes. The guards average about twenty dollars and many can be “reboiled” and fit for a new mold if your child’s mouth grows or changes. This is great for elementary to middle school age since our kids grow and change so drastically over the years. Once our children’s bite has matured or they have completed orthodontics, you can have a custom sports guard made by your child’s dentist. A mold will be made (usually the upper teeth) and the guard will adapt perfectly to the mouth and not be as bulky as the over the counter models. These are a little pricier, but the custom fit is much more comfortable for your dedicated athlete. So, don’t hesitate if your child is currently participating in sports, run to the store and pick up that mouth guard today!

Dr. Melissa McCool is a proud mom of a 7-year-old, and a pediatric dentist at The Smile Shop.