Spring is just around the corner. If you’re a parent, that can mean sitting on the sidelines watching your child play soccer, baseball or lacrosse, and cringing every time they get hit with the ball or by another player.
Athletic programs through the schools or recreation programs almost always require appropriate protection, including pads, helmets and protective mouth guards. Mouth guards, according to pediatric dentists, are one of the most important pieces of equipment in protecting your mouth and jaw, yet they are often overlooked.
There are three basic types of mouth guards: stock mouth guards, heat moldable mouth guards and custom made mouth guards. Stock guards are the least expensive, but the fit cannot be adjusted. Heat moldable guards work by boiling in water, cooling slightly and placing in the child’s mouth, forming a guard that is suited to his or her mouth. Finally, custom made mouth guards, which are considered the most protective, are made by making a mold of the child’s bite and then fabricating a mouth guard out of that mold.
Is age a factor in choosing which type of mouth guard is best for your child? The answer is, not really. The best guard will be the one that most closely matches your child’s teeth, so a custom guard is the obvious choice. This, however, can be quite expensive, especially in the formative years before the final set of adult teeth are all in, roughly around the age of 12.
Your dentist will instruct you and your child on the care of your custom made guard. Briefly, you want to make sure your child uses it only during practice or game time. After use, it should be cleaned with warm water and a soft bristled tooth brush and then stored in a container a put in a safe place for next time.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Mitul Patel
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