Every summer, kids across Australia take to the field and enjoy their favourite sports.

It can be a lot of fun, but it isn’t without its hazards. Just about every sport carries the risk of oral injury. According to the Australian Dental Association, every year, thousands of kids are treated for injuries to their teeth, and to the soft tissues of their mouths, that could have been avoided if they had been using mouth guards.

Such injuries are totally unnecessary; here’s how to make sure your kids are safe this season:

Why a good mouth guard is important

Impacts from other players, hard falls onto fields and hardwood floors, and the sudden unwelcome appearance of a hockey or tennisĀ ball near the face can chip or break teeth, lacerate the gums, and twist up expensive orthodontic appliances.

Mouth guards absorb the shock of such impacts and greatly reduce the risk of injury. Below is an infographic by DentalAbout highlighting the importance of wearing a mouth guard.

What to look for in a mouth guard

Most oral health professionals advise using a custom made mouth guard. The better the fit of your child’s guard, the more complete its protection will be.

If a customised mouth guard isn’t available, you can buy one off the shelf in a size that’s close to what your child takes. Err on the side of too large, as a soft mouth guard can be trimmed at its back edges to provide a better fit.

Always opt for a soft mouth guard, as these distribute the force of impact more efficiently than rigid plastics and are unlikely to themselves become dangerous projectiles inside the mouth.

How to use the mouth guard properly

After trimming the mouth guard to create a comfortable fit, there are a few extra things you can do to ensure the guard stays in place and does its job.

If the mouth guard you’ve purchasedĀ is made of soft polyurethane, try boiling it in water for 30 seconds to soften it. Once you take it out, let it cool just long enough to be put in the mouth, but not long enough for it to harden up again. Have your child bite down on the mouth guard while it’s still soft. After around 30 seconds of firm pressure, the mouth guard should have the distinct impression of your child’s teeth in it. This impression should be permanent and will help to create a firmer fit, as the surface of the guard will exactly match the topography of your child’s teeth.

Always keep mouth guards in rigid containers when not in use and keep the container away from heat sources to prevent warping and softening.

Be sure to clean the guard after every use to prevent the growth of bacteria over its surface. Finally, check the mouth guard at least once a year, and replace it as needed. Be sure to check its fit. Remember, even if the mouth guard is still in good shape, your child’s mouth is still growing and changing shape.

The sporting season is one of the joys of childhood. It isn’t entirely without its perils, though, especially regarding the dental health of the most enthusiastic players.

Make sure your child isn’t one of the thousands who will be treated for dental injuries this year by choosing a quality mouth guard, maintaining it properly, and always using it during contact sports. It’s a small investment with a big return.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Yes I think they are incredibly important.

    Reply

  • An informative article – thank you

    Reply

  • Definitely an important point made in this article

    Reply

  • Teeth are most important in life, do all you can to look after and preserve them.

    Reply

  • Not only that, a bump may not damage your teeth but your teeth may go through your lip, just above or below. That happened to a relative (a child) of mine. It wasn’t bad enough to need stitching, just to suck on an iceblock. You could possible use an ice or cold pack.

    Reply

  • My kids are great with their mouth guards now.

    Reply

  • Some good reasons, most important thing is safety.

    Reply

  • some good tips thank you

    Reply

  • Mouthguards are so important for all kids who play a contact sport because when I was a dental nurse I saw so many unnecessary injuries which affected them for the rest of their lives.

    Reply

  • Do mouth guards completely cover the bottom teeth too.??


    • Mouth guards cover the top teeth only but as majority of the impact is sustained in the upper jaw; the mouth guard will act as a shock absorber even if injury is sustained from blow to the lower jaw.

    Reply

  • I hadn’t really considered the importance of a mouth guard-thanks for the tips

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  • We always have a professionally fit mouthguard made for my 13 year old son. He has just had braces put on, so this will make the mouthguard even more important.

    Reply

  • It’s good to learn about all these new information.

    Reply

  • Yes, these are essential, my 2 sons and 1 daughter started with the off the shelf ones one Saturday morning just before their first junior hockey game, I soon purchased some that were custom made from the dentist, I consider it an essential and they got new ones frequently, they also wore them at cricket and took them to school for sport, you only get one lot of adult teeth and when they are damaged there is only so much that can be done and even if the teeth can be saved the ongoing work an cost for a lifetime is an inconvenience at the very least, so I consider these an essential, no different to putting a helmet on a bike rider!!

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  • Do remember to check for size and teeth movement really regularly if they have braces, as the tightening of wires etc can play havoc with guards.

    Thanks for sharing this important article.


    • Thanks for sharing this very good point about braces!!

    Reply

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