What’s That in Your Mouth?

Debra C. Duffy DDS - Boy putting in his mouth guard

Preventing injury to kids’ teeth is especially important this time of year, as kids are headed back to school and back to the sports they love so much.

But how do you keep their teeth safe while they’re running around and playing these sports? You get them fitted for protective mouthguards.

What to Buy

The world of mouthguards has come a long way from the “boil-and-bite” version, and although those are still available in many drugstores and sporting goods stores, they offer very little protection compared to custom-fit mouthguards.

Here’s a breakdown of what the different mouthguards are and how they work:

  • Stock mouthguard: These mouthguards are the least expensive kind and run anywhere from $5 to $15. This type is typically available at sporting goods stores as a ready-made stock item; it requires you to bite down to hold it in place. It offers the least amount of protection and is not considered acceptable for adequate dental protection.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguard: This thermoplastic mouthguard is placed in hot water to soften; it’s then placed in the mouth, where it is formed and shaped around the teeth using a finger, the tongue, and sometimes biting pressure. These tend to be fairly popular mouthguards because they are readily available and are very affordable, ranging in price from around $20 to $50. Although they offer some protection, they can also be bulky and have a loose fit.
  • Shell-liner mouthguard: This is usually made from an acrylic material which is poured into an outer shell that forms a lining; it’s then placed in the mouth, where the acrylic is allowed to set as it molds to the teeth. It provides some protection but can be bulky and have a loose fit, similar to the boil-and-bite version.
  • Custom-made mouthguard: By far the best choice, a custom mouthguard offers the best fit, best protection, and best comfort level because it is made from a model of your teeth.

Debra Duffy DDS mouthguards

According the American Dental Association, “Numerous surveys of sports-related dental injuries have documented that participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels are at risk of sustaining dental injuries in sporting activities, including organized and unorganized sports at both recreational and competitive levels…. The [ADA] Councils promote the importance of safety in maintaining oral health and the use of a properly fitted mouthguard as the best available protective device for reducing the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries.”

If you have kids who love their sports, regardless of the type of sport, be sure to get them properly fitted for mouthguards.

A Healthy Mouth Is a Happy Mouth!

~Dr. Duffy

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