Guide to Mouthguards for Your Kids

We look at why (and when) it’s important for your child to wear a mouthguard, and provide an overview of mouthguard options.

A 2015 study of junior rugby league players in Queensland, published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed that over half of young players had experienced an injury to the face or teeth when playing sport. It also showed that, despite over 90 per cent of surveyed coaches having encouraged the use of mouthguards, only 68 per cent of players were wearing them, with most doing so only during games and not while training. 
Dr Mark Psillakis is an executive clinical consultant with Dental Corporation, an associate dentist at Bexley Dental in Sydney and a strong advocate of mouthguards to help prevent injuries.
 
“The use of a custom-fitted mouthguard absorbs and spreads the impact of a blow to the face, which may otherwise cause an injury to the mouth or jaw. 
 
“Dental injuries often result in time off school or work to recover. They can be painful and disfiguring, and may involve lengthy and complex dental treatment. Without a doubt, the cost of an injury to the teeth or jaw far exceeds the cost of a mouthguard.”

Choosing the right type of mouthguard for your child

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) says that self-fitted, over-the-counter ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards are inadequate and, for effective protection, a custom mouthguard fitted by a dental professional is essential.
 
“An effective mouthguard needs to be custom-made, so that it fits snugly and comfortably,” explains Psillakis. “This is so it affords the protection needed, but also to ensure that the person is happy to wear it, and able to remain focused on the game at hand and be able to talk to their teammates.”
 
Most players understand and accept that mouthguards need to be worn when playing on game day but, given that many drills also have the potential to cause injury, mouthguards should also be worn during training. This approach also allows children to get used to wearing the guard in preparation for game day.
kids playing soccer

Are mouthguards only only for contact sport?

“We accept the need for mouthguards for [contact sports]; however, I believe that we should be wearing mouthguards even for sports that are not classed as contact sports.
 
“I’ve had to reinsert two front teeth on a soccer player who inadvertently came down from a header onto an opposing player’s knee; I’ve had basketball players chip teeth from impacting another’s elbow. I see children in skateboard parks without mouthguards.”
 
Psillakis adds that while children may be concerned about “what’s cool and what’s not”, the reality is that “it doesn’t take much for an accident to occur and that can lead to a lifetime of regret”.
If your child is playing sport regularly, it’s important that you get them fitted with a good-quality mouthguard – then make sure that they actually wear it. This will protect their teeth long term, potentially saving them many painful (and possibly expensive) visits to the dentist.

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