Protecting Your Child’s Teeth in the Sports Season

As parents, we often associate the need for mouthguards with sports like football, hockey, and other contact sports. However, there is a risk of dental injury in nearly all sports, extending to baseball, volleyball, soccer, and more. While all these are great activities for kids to be able to go outside and get fresh air and exercise as spring rolls around, we can also take precautions in order to protect those precious teeth!

While the sports season begins, taking a few crucial steps in considering your child’s dental health and mitigation of injury can save you emergency trips to the dentist later on down the road. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), athletes without properly fitted mouthguards are sixty times more likely to encounter an oral injury than their counterparts. Even riskier is a dental or oral injury for a child who wears braces, as blunt force injuries to the mouth with braces can result in cuts, bumps, and painful sores.

If your child plays football, baseball, hockey, or other helmet-wearing sports, putting a properly fitted face cage can help prevent your child’s face from getting hit at high speeds with a ball, elbow, bat, or other object. Make sure your child’s face cage is fully fastened and tightened to their helmet, which you can purchase at your local sports specialty store.

The other primary form of dental injury prevention is in the form of mouthguards. To protect teeth, jaws, and even soft tissues like the gumline and inner cheeks, mouthguards are the easiest form of prevention that you can use for your child. There are 3 main mouthguard options: pre-made mouthguards that are available at many sports stores, boil-and-bite mouthguards that mold to your child’s bite while it’s soft, and custom fitted mouthguards made by a dentist. Any mouthguard is better than none, but we recommend a custom fitted mouthguard for maximum coverage and protection! Make sure that if you do get your child a mouthguard that they are wearing it properly during their games and practices, and that they don’t form a habit of chewing on it as that can both damage the mouthguard and their teeth.

Teach your child the importance of keeping their mouthguard clean and cared for, by keeping it in its proper case that is well ventilated to prevent moisture from gathering and staying. Rinse mouthguards before and after use, and regularly clean them by gently brushing with their toothbrush and toothpaste. You will likely notice your child’s mouthguard eventually showing signs of wear and tear (especially if worn properly), so replace it as needed when you notice it.

Sometimes even with the very best prevention, injuries and accidents can still happen. Expect the unexpected by having an emergency dental care plan in place. Keep your dentist’s contact information handy and contact them as soon as possible if your child sustains tooth damage, or loses a tooth. Our office does the best we can to get your child seen as soon as possible in these situations, and the sooner you contact us the better. Michael J. Leach DDS provides a full range of dental services for pediatric and special needs children. We have two offices located conveniently in Alpharetta and Canton so give us a call to book an appointment!