1. Make a mouthguard part of your child’s uniform! Helmet? Check! Knee pads? Check! Mouthguard? Uh……..What?
Why is a mouthguard an important part of your child’s uniform?
A sport mouthguard is designed to protect the teeth, lips, tongue, face, and jaw against sudden, hard impact injuries. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth. Patients with braces or other dental appliances should wear a mouthguard to protect the mouth from cutting and bruising that can occur with impact injuries.
Mouthguards are recommended for sports such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, volleyball, softball, karate, skateboarding, gymnastics, mountain biking, and any other activity that might result in injury to the mouth. Many sport organizations require a mouthguard in order to play. For example, the USA Hockey requires all youth players to have a visible, colored mouthguard for every practice and game.
What Are the Different Types of Mouthguards?
No matter which type of mouthguard you choose, it should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should also fit properly and not restrict your child’s breathing. The three types of mouthguards are:
- Custom-made mouthguards — These are individually designed and made in our office. Not surprisingly, custom-made mouthguards are likely to provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. A dental assistant makes an impression of your child’s teeth. The impression is made into a life-size model of the mouth. Then, Dr. Goodwin constructs the mouthguard over the model, using a 3-D printer. Most athletes prefer a custom mouthguard since they provide a better fit and are more comfortable. However, custom mouthguards are usually the most expensive option.
- Boil and bite mouthguards — These come in a pre-formed shape that can be altered by boiling the mouth guard in water, then biting into the warm plastic for a customized fit. They can be bought at many sport stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. Follow the directions carefully to avoid winding up with a poor-fitting mouthguard.
- Stock mouthguards — These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well and can be uncomfortable. They can be bulky and may make breathing and talking difficult. These are not recommended and will not give the best protection.
2. Sideline Sugary Sports Drinks
Kids and teens love sports drinks. In fact, studies have shown that these “thirst quenchers” are consumed by 62% of adolescents every day. But are they good for your child’s body or teeth? And are they truly necessary for sports performance? Here are a few facts:
Sports drinks contain more sugar than you may realize.
After water, the second ingredient in some popular brands of sports drinks is high fructose corn syrup. Some sports drinks contain as much as 19 grams of added sugar which means that bacteria present in your child’s mouth are being given exactly what they need to grow.
The high acidity of sports drinks can damage tooth enamel.
A 2012 study showed that sports drinks often have high acidity. This acid interferes with the mouth’s ability to regulate a healthy pH and can lead to the wearing away of enamel. While tooth enamel is literally the hardest substance in the human body, it’s no match for a steady stream of acid.
Sports drinks are full of salt.
Some sports drinks contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. Keep in mind that a “serving” is usually 8 ounces, which means that a large bottle of the leading sports drink can have more sodium than a bag of potato chips.
Sports drinks can be high in calories.
Even though they generally contain fewer calories than soda, sports drinks can still be high in calories due to their serving sizes and the large amount that many kids drink. Sports drinks make up 10-15% of the daily caloric intake of most teens and aside from their intended purpose, these beverages aren’t always consumed in conjunction with sports.
Sports drinks are best suited for intense physical activity.
If your child is participating in an intense game with constant movement and an elevated heart rate, a small serving of sports drinks may come in handy from time to time. But most youth sports don’t involve that level of activity. Fluoridated water is almost always a better choice.
The bottom line is that most kids don’t really need sports drinks. Consuming what amounts to sugar water simply isn’t necessary for the majority of sports or outdoor activities.
We encourage you to read labels and be aware of everything your child drinks. Keep your child hydrated and make certain that you child is drinking plenty of water.
3. Remember the basics of good oral hygiene:
Practice makes perfect! To master the skills of a sport, an athlete must put in a lot of practice. It is the same with good dental habits.
Good dental habits lead to strong, healthy teeth and prevent cavities. These dental habits include brushing at least twice a day, flossing every day, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Why is it important to practice good oral hygiene?
- A tooth with decay (a cavity) or large fillings is more likely to break or be damaged if a sports injury happens.
- Large cavities can enter the nerves and blood supply of a tooth and lead to abscesses (infection). The infection causes pain and can affect the health of the whole body.
- Periodontal disease (infections of the gums and connective tissue around the teeth) can occur. This can lead to loose teeth and gum infections.
- Chronic infections from cavities and gum infections can influence an athlete’s performance and well-being.
Your child’s oral health is important to us! If you have any questions about his or her dental health, please call us or visit our office!