Children are at risk of sports-related oral injury beginning as early as age five and continuing through adolescence into adulthood. The use of mouthguards has been proven to greatly reduce the incidence of injury to the teeth, gums and jaws and even provide some protection from concussion injury. Mandatory use of mouthguards has been common for football, ice hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse. Baseball and basketball have been shown to have the highest incidence of sports-related dental injuries. Other sports including soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling as well as other recreational activities present obvious risk.
The most commonly utilized mouthguards are Mouth-Formed and described as “boil and bite”. They are available for purchase at sports shops and pharmacies and fitted at home. Made of a thermoplastic material, they are adapted to the mouth by finger, tongue, lip and cheek pressure after immersing in hot water. At CPDA we feel that mouth-formed guards are the most practical for patients who are changing from baby to permanent teeth and having orthodontic care with braces. We are happy to assist with adapting these in the office at no cost.
By mid-teens the alternative of a Custom-Fitted mouthguard may be preferred. These are provided by dental professionals and made on a model of the athlete’s mouth. The advantages are a more precise fit and more comfortable speaking and breathing. While more expensive, they may improve willingness to wear them and serve well for a longer time period.
Occlusal Splints are sometimes used in cases of tooth grinding (bruxism) or as part of therapy for jaw joint disharmony. While similar in appearance to some mouthguards, they usually provide a hard outer surface combined with a soft inner liner. Tooth grinding is very common and considered normal in younger children. In cases of continued tooth grinding after the permanent teeth have replaced all the baby teeth (usually by age 13) the expert dentists at CPDA will advise on any need of intervention.
Feel free to contact our Cambridge pediatric dental office if you have any questions about mouth guards or to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists.