As parents, we want to encourage our children to participate in sports and other physical activities–but we also want to protect them from injuries. Unfortunately, we can’t wrap our kids in bubble wrap and send them on their way! One thing we can do, though, is purchase them a custom mouth guard before they start any extracurricular contact sports.
What is a custom mouth guard? It’s a little bit different than the mouth guards you can purchase at the sporting goods store. Most mouth guards are either one-size-fits-all or boil-and-bite guards that you create at home. A custom mouth guard is only available at your dentist’s office. Because there’s no easy way to undo damage to the teeth, we highly recommend choosing a custom mouth guard for your child. Here’s why:
Your Child’s Smile Will Be Better Protected
Because a custom mouth guard is designed to snugly fit your child’s facial shape and features, it outperforms all other options. A study of collegiate athletes found that custom mouth guards offered the best protection against injury, while also being more comfortable than stock or boil-and-bite guards. The American Dental Association also stresses that custom mouth guards show the most injury reduction when it comes to orofacial injuries. The ADA cites a 2002 study of 70,836 college basketball players that found a rate of 0.12 dental injuries per 1000 exposures in players wearing custom-fitted mouth guards, compared to a rate of 0.67 in players who didn’t wear a mouth guard at all.
Your Child Will Actually Wear a Custom Mouth Guard
Mouth guards are only effective if a child wears them. When they have bulky stock mouth guards or improperly fitted boil-and-bite models, children and teens are more likely to leave them in the locker room rather than wearing them during a game.
Because a custom mouth guard is molded to your child’s mouth, it’s the most comfortable option for protecting the teeth. Common complaints from children about mouth guards are that they have trouble speaking and being understood while wearing them and that they have difficulty keeping the mouth guard in place comfortably for the duration of a game. Because a custom mouth guard feels better, your child won’t complain about having to wear it.
Your Child Will Breathe Easier
We know that parents will breathe easier knowing their child’s teeth are protected in the case of injury. But with a custom mouth guard, your child will literally breathe easier too.
Another complaint children have about one-size-fits-all mouth guards is that they have difficulty breathing with them during intense physical activity. A custom mouth guard has no negative impact on breathing. Research on competitive cyclists even indicates that custom mouth guards may improve breathing and performance in some circumstances.