Which Mouthguard is Best for Your Child
Often times I would receive the question “which mouth guard do you recommend” or “what is the best mouth guard,” and honestly it comes down to several factors. The Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD) recommends the use of “a properly fitted mouthguard made over a dental cast and delivered under the supervision of a dentist” (aapd.org). Although this is the best recommendation, it sometimes is not practical.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) classifications to include three different categories of mouthguards:
- Type I – Custom-fabricated by a Dentist
- Type II – Mouth-Formed or Boil-and-Bite
- Type III – Stock or Over-the-Counter
The Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends the use of a properly fitted mouthguard made over a dental cast and delivered under the supervision of a dentist.
The Importance of a Mouthguard
Research shows that children ages 7 to 11 years old are most susceptible to a sports-related dental injury. Additionally, dental trauma occurs more often in amateur and children, than professional athletes. Baseball is the biggest culprit of dental injuries, followed by basketball.
“Research shows that children ages 7 to 11 years old are most susceptible to a sports-related dental injury.”Expectedly, sports that have shown to be more physical have fewer injuries because of the understood risk associated with that sport. However, other minimal contact sports are where children are showing the greatest prevalence of oral-facial trauma. Legislation will soon catch up, and most any athlete will need to wear mouthguards and proposed protetive equipment.
Parents should want to take the necessary steps to help prevent dental injuries by considering facemasks, helmets, and mouthguards if there lies potential for a respective injury. Regardless, legislation will soon catch up, and most any athlete will be required to wear the suggested protective equipment. Furthermore, don’t be surprised if there is a movement for third-party contributions to improving access to said equipment.
A 2004 survey found that custom fabricated mouthguards cost anywhere from $60 – $285. Even though this is a very high price, if the dentist fabricates the guard correctly, then it should last several seasons.
A custom mouthguard is made by having an impression taken of your child’s upper (maxillary) teeth and using that impression to prepare a stone cast replica. Then the dentist will either send the cast off to a laboratory or construct the guard in-office.
Occasionally, a child with braces may need a custom mouthguard to accommodate the brackets and wires that are present.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards
These type of mouthguards are the most popular, and used by most athletes. The cost is much lower than a custom mouthguard and is easy to make. Essentially, you take a pre-fabricated mouthguard and dip it into boiling water. After a set amount of time, the athlete then places it in their mouth and bites gently to form the mouthpiece into proper form.
These mouthpieces are moderately inexpensive but will only last a full season, at most. I recall seeing patients chewing through this type of mouthpiece withing weeks of making one.
Although the cheapest guard available, it is actually quite difficult to find one of these guards. I had one when I was nine years old and got a set of boxing gloves for Christmas. They are extremely bulky and not comfortable. The athlete will be unable to adapt the guard to their mouth, and it can occasionally cause soft-tissue damage to the gums and cheeks from its maladaptive structure.
Regardless of which mouthguard you select for your child, the key is that the child will use the mouthpiece. If the guard is comfortable and proper education is delivered regarding the importance of use, then research shows the child will be more susceptible to using the product. As with any product, kids will sometimes gravitate towards a more popular brand like the Under Armour ArmourBite Mouth Guard. Under Armour claims that their product will actually enhance performance, but I will let you be the judge of that.
Please see an article I recently wrote called “First Aid for a Knocked Out Tooth,” should your child have a traumatic dental injury. Additionally, you can find a review regarding a preventative product for avulsed (knocked out) teeth, called Save-A-Tooth.
That is all for now and remember,