2011-07-01 / Health

Mouth guards are important for athletes in many different sports

By Maxim Sulla, D.D.S.

What are athletic mouth guards?

Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic.They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.

Why are mouth guards important?

Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment.They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

When should children wear a mouth guard?

Children should wear a mouth guard whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment.This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, and gymnastics.We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

How do you choose a mouth guard for your child?

Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. Choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.

You can select from several options in mouth guards. Preformed or “boil-to-fit” mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection and cost. Customized mouth guards are provided through your pediatric dentist.They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries.Your pediatric dentist can advise you on what type of mouth guard is best for your child.

Dr. Maxim Sulla is a dentist with TenderSmiles4Kids. The Freehold office is located in the Pond View Professional Park at 122 Professional View Drive, Building 100, second floor; call 732-625-8080.The Somerset office is located at 1313 Route 27; call 732-249-1010.Visit www.tendersmiles4kids.com.

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