Many kids keep busy during the summer months off from school by playing on organized sports leagues. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to encourage physical activity and sportsmanship while keeping your child safe at the same time. It’s important to protect his or her teeth and jaws as well as other parts of the body. We encourage you to speak to your regular dentist at Mesilla Valley Family Dentistry to learn more about our customized mouth guards.

The American Dental Association on the Importance of Mouth Guards

An injury to the mouth can knock out teeth, push your child’s upper and lower rows of teeth out of alignment, and cause several other significant injuries. The good news is that it’s possible to prevent most of these injuries simply by wearing a mouth guard. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that including this piece of safety equipment helps to prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries every year.

Most youth sports leagues require participants to wear protective equipment such as helmets, shin pads, goggles, and shoulder pads. Unfortunately, it’s rare for them to require the use of a mouth guard except in hockey. The ADA hopes that its statistics will help change that. Approximately 85 percent of children do not wear mouth guards when playing organized sports according to this well-respected dental organization. Additionally, injuries to the teeth and jaw are the most common type of facial injury in youth sports today.

Playing a sport such as football, lacrosse, basketball, soccer, baseball, martial arts, and wrestling all increase the likelihood that your child will sustain a mouth injury. While you can’t eliminate the risk entirely, you can reduce the possibility of your child losing a tooth, breaking a jaw, or sustaining another significant injury by insisting that he or she wear a mouth guard as a condition of playing sports.

What to Expect When Your Child Receives a Customized Mouth Guard

You can find a one-size-fits-all mouth guard at any sporting goods store. However, we don’t recommend using them because everyone has a unique mouth shape and the device may slide around or fit too tightly. We start the process of creating a customized mouth guard by taking an impression of your child’s upper and lower rows of teeth. Our dentists then mold the impression into a custom-fit mouth guard. Your child should only require one appointment for fitting in most cases.

Caring for the New Mouth Guard

Like all oral appliances, mouth guards wear out eventually. Here is what your child needs to do to keep it lasting as long as possible:

  • Store in a protective case when not in use
  • Never chew on the device
  • Keep it out of the hot sun to prevent melting
  • Gently scrub the mouth guard with toothpaste after each use, rinse it with water,
    and dry it off before storing

Children grow quickly, especially during the teen years. We recommend bringing your young athlete in at the start of each new season to determine if he or she needs a replacement mouth guard. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Las Cruces, New Mexico dental office if you have additional questions.