If you child plays any type of contact sport, you need to protect their face and mouth. More than seven million injuries are sustained by individuals from ages 5 to 24 during sports-type activities. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that anyone who participates in these events wear a mouth guard. With a mouth guard, you can reduce the risk of concussion by 50 percent.
Mouth guard basics:
• Made from plastic materials, mouth guards cover teeth and gums. Different types of mouth guards are available: stock, boil and bite, and custom.
• Stock mouth guards are the least expensive choice, but they don’t fit very well and they offer limited protection. You can find stock mouth guards at any sporting goods store.
• A slightly better choice, boil and bite mouth appliances are placed in hot water and then allowed to mold to the shape of your teeth. Boil and bite mouth guards can also be purchased from sport goods retailers.
• Custom mouth guards offer the best coverage. These devices are designed to fit your specific teeth and gums. Your orthodontist will take a model of your teeth and send it to a dental lab to construct the custom appliance.
• Once your orthodontist receives the mouth guard from the lab, you can schedule a return appointment to check the fit.
• To care for your mouth guard, store the device in a safe place when you aren’t wearing it and clean the mouth guard with warm water after each use.
• If you have braces, ask your orthodontist about what type of mouth guard to wear to protect your mouth.