Youth sports help Mount Pleasant children learn discipline and teamwork, in addition to just being fun. With fall right around the corner, many are preparing for their lacrosse, football, or soccer seasons. With all of this action comes the added risk of oral injuries and a need for mouthguards.
Even “non-contact” sports occasionally result in accidents that could cause serious injuries. Protective equipment like helmets, knee and elbow pads, and mouthguards help mitigate some of this risk, but the quality of your child’s equipment can make a big difference in its effectiveness, too.
Injuries to the mouth aren’t just painful; they can affect your appearance, speech, and eating, not to mention the potential of being extremely expensive! Mouthguards (or mouth protectors), help cushion blows that could damage the teeth, tongue, gums, and lips.
Oral Injuries in Youth Sports
Did you know that more than 5 million teeth are knocked out in youth sports every year, with parents spending roughly $500 million to replace them?!
That’s a lot of teeth..and a lot of money! Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits for teenagers, and result in 775,000 emergency room visits for children aged 5-14 years.
Young athletes are 60x more likely to sustain an oral injury if they don’t wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards prevent an estimated 200,000 injuries in student athletes every year.
Besides having their teeth knocked out (avulsed) and damaging the soft tissues of the mouth, the most common injuries to the mouth resulting from sports are:
The front/upper teeth are the most exposed, so they are the most likely to be damaged when a young athlete takes an impact to the jaw/face. While chipped and broken teeth show obvious signs, sometimes teeth are cracked in a way that isn’t always visible to the naked eye. While this usually results in varying pain (particularly when eating), it may not even be felt until an infection has already spread into the root.
When we think of a chipped tooth, we tend to think of the crown being damaged. Sometimes the break or crack begins at the root below the gum line. Just as with the previous entry, it might go unnoticed until an infection develops.
When a tooth is knocked in rather than being knocked out, we call it an intrusion. An intrusion is the result of the tooth being driven back into the jawbone during impact. This type of injury is more common in younger children that still have their primary teeth, as their alveolar bones have not yet hardened. Intrusions can result in root resorption, tooth loss, or the fusing of the root of the injured tooth to the bone.
How Mouthguards Work
Mouthguards provide your young athlete with several functions that work together to reduce the risk of traumatic injuries.
Mouthguards cushion direct blows to the teeth, redistributing the forces of impact. A blow that may have only impacted the front teeth is cushioned (reducing impact force) and then spread out among all of the teeth, radically reducing the chances of damaged teeth.
Mouthguards prevent laceration and other soft tissue damage by acting as a buffer between the teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth.
Mouthguards prevent the teeth from contacting each other, acting as shock absorbers between the upper and lower jaw. There’s even evidence that mouthguards reduce the risk of concussions or other TBIs.
Types of Mouthguards
While all mouthguards provide some level of protection, not all are created equal. Sports medicine experts estimate that 80% of mouthguards should be rated as “ineffective”. There are three primary forms of mouthguards.
Stock mouth protectors are the type commonly found in sporting goods stores. They are preformed or unformed, similar to impression trays used by dentists. The fit can’t be adjusted, and a poor fit makes it more difficult for athletes to breathe, as well as often resulting in kids not wanting to wear them. An ill fit means that an impact will only distribute forces to a few teeth, providing little protection.
Boiled or Bite Mouthguards
Boiled mouth protectors can also be found at most department stores. This is the type most commonly used in contact sports, and they offer an improved fit over stock mouthguards. They are made from a thermoplastic material that is placed in hot water to soften, and then they are placed in the mouth and bitten to form a mold of the teeth. While better than stock guards, bite mouth protectors have their own drawbacks. Athletes must hold their jaws together to keep the mouthguard in place, and often chew through them. The material is too thin and easily worn down, meaning they don’t provide adequate protection for very long and should be replaced frequently.
Custom mouth protectors are laminated and pressured formed, right in the dentist’s office. Who better to make your mouthguard than your dentist?
These take our team only a couple of minutes to make, are affordable, and provide some of the best protection available. They provide a perfect fit, which improves both protection and compliance (kids won’t take them out), and they are far more durable than other materials. This style is a must have for athletes wearing orthodontic appliances.
Custom mouth protectors provide the best return on investment for parents.
Kids value their teeth, and so do we!
Our custom mouthguards not only work great, they look great. We can customize mouthguards with team colors, names, jersey numbers, or even mascots and other images! A boring piece of protective equipment can become a unique symbol that they become attached to.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you’re ready to schedule an appointment for a mouthguard, contact us today.