With the arrival of spring comes the beginning of baseball, softball and T-ball season. While uniforms, cleats, balls and bats often take the spotlight for necessary gear, there’s one piece of equipment most parents forget to invest in: a mouthguard. Mouthguards, though not glamorous, are arguably one of the most important pieces of sports equipment you can outfit your child with for safety. After all, you’re probably already paying for Invisalign and teeth whitening to make sure your child has the best smile possible. And while commercially available mouthguards from your favorite big-box store might be quick and easy to find, they don’t keep your child’s mouth safe on the field.
Why Mouthguards Are Necessary
Accidents happen both on the field and off, but sports-related trauma can lead to costly, time-consuming treatment for your young athlete. A ball to the mouth, an on-field collision or a mis-swing with a bat can damage your child’s teeth. Both initial and follow-up treatment can usually repair damage and restore functionality, but it’s much more worthwhile to focus on preventing injury in the first place. And what parent wouldn’t want to spare their child the pain and lost hours of sitting in the dental chair to fix a lost or chipped tooth (or worse)?
The Types of Mouthguards Available
There are a few different types of mouthguards available to protect your children’s teeth as they play sports, but only a few offer any real benefit. The ones that will actually provide the protection young mouths need are custom fit by your dentist, requiring a visit to fit.
- Stock mouthguards: These mouthguards are easily found for a couple dollars at any sporting goods store. Resembling U-shaped trays, they do not fit or conform to your child’s teeth or mouth at all, and research suggests using them can be more harmful than nothing at all in some instances.
- Boil-and-bite mouthguards: Still found at your neighborhood store, these mouthguards fit moderately well. Again, resembling U-shaped trays, they’re made of plastic that’s boiled to soften, allowing your child to bite down and get a reasonable impression of their bite. Unfortunately, these mouthguards require pressure to keep in place, leading many young athletes to chew on them and render them useless in a short period of time.
- Vacuum-formed mouthguards: Available from your dentist, these mouthguards form heated material over a previously taken cast of your child’s mouth for a good fit. Still, new technology offers better options for protective sports mouthguards.
- EVA mouthguards: Made from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), these mouthguards provide the most protection. Formed by pressure over a cast of your child’s bite, these mouthguards absorb and distribute the pressure of a foul ball or errant elbow evenly across the teeth to minimize force.
How to Get a Custom Mouthguard
Whether you opt for a vacuum-formed mouthguard or a pressure-formed EVA mouthguard, your dentist is the person to talk to. Book an appointment in advance of the season opener and explain your child’s needs. Your dentist is happy to help and can advise you of what options fit your budget, your scheduling availability and your child’s situation. Expect to have a cast taken of your child’s teeth or a scan to create a model. Your dentist will use this to create the mouthguard. Depending on whether the technology is available in-house, you may need to return in a number of days or weeks to pick up the finished mouthguard.
How We Can Help
The offices of Drs. Krieger and Hur make cosmetic dentistry easy and convenient, often completing procedures the same day! When your smile needs perfecting, but your time is limited, give us a call at 201-560-0606 or email us here and we’ll get you fast-tracked back to eye-catching confidence.
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