Participating in athletics? Don’t forget your mouth guard!

4572173745_cf0796ea54Thanks to Michigan’s great outdoors, there are a number of activities kids can participate in throughout the summer. For many, this means getting involved in athletics – from a neighborhood kickball game to an organized summer league. Regardless of the activity, the importance of wearing a mouth guard should not be overlooked. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), this small plastic device has been found to prevent more than 200,000 mouth injuries a year, not to mention the countless number of teeth it has saved.

So what type of mouth guard is best? In general, there are three basic options to choose from, all of which offer different levels or protection and fit.

Off-the-shelf

Off-the-shelf mouth guards are the most basic of the three options and can be found at the majority of sporting good stores. While the price point is low, little can be done to adjust fit, offering a minimal level of protection for children’s teeth.

Boil and bite

Although popular, this type is also limited in protection. Made from thermoplastic material, this mouth guard can be made to fit adequately through the “boil and bite” process, but still lacks proper extensions and fails to cover the back teeth.

Custom-fitted

Custom-fitted mouth guards are designed and made in a dental office from an impression of your child’s teeth. This option, although more expensive is made from the highest quality material and covers all of your child’s teeth, offering the highest level of protection.

Something to remember; not only is the protective level of the bite guard of major importance, but the comfort level of the appliance is almost as important as the fit.   If the appliance is not comfortable and loose fitting and keeps falling out, your child is not going to wear the appliance.   So please make sure the appliance fits and is comfortable to wear.

What’s most important isn’t necessarily which type you choose for your kids but that you choose to have them wear one. According to the ADA, participating in sports without a mouth guard makes an athlete sixty times more likely to sustain a dental injury. Thankfully though, a comfortable, well-fitted mouth guard is both easy to find and to wear. Plus, it can go a long way in protecting your child’s mouth, giving you one less thing to worry about this summer.

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