These dental devices offer important protection during sports.

These days, kids are more active than ever before. But, though sports are an excellent form of exercise, they can also threaten the safety of your child’s mouth. It’s a fact that up to 84 percent of children forego mouthguards when playing organized sports. Fortunately, with a little protective care, your aspiring athlete can hit the field, the gym, or the court with a confident, well-protected smile.

Why does your child need a mouthguard? A simple mouthguard provides necessary protection for young athletes. These clear, soft plastic covers are specifically designed to cover the teeth, gums and any orthodontic appliance. They protect the mouth from flying projectiles, prevent the teeth from damaging the rest of the mouth and help your child maintain a healthy smile. Designed for both everyday practices and the big game, this simple and inexpensive piece of gear could save your child a lot of pain down the line.

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Parents are often surprised to learn that most sports pose a risk to teeth. While contact sports, such as football and wrestling, pose the biggest threat, even noncontact sports like basketball are known for their high levels of dental injuries. Sports with projectiles, including lacrosse and baseball, can easily knock out a tooth. Even during an activity like gymnastics, there is always the risk of falling.

Mouthguards protect the mouth from cuts, tooth loss or other oral injuries. Yet, despite their importance, few organized sports require oral protective gear—though each year they prevent an estimated 200,000 injuries, according to the American Dental Association.

If your young athlete needs a mouthguard, there are many options. The devices can be custom-fitted at your dentist or store-bought. Store-bought options include boil and bite, for a more custom fit, as well as stock guards, which come in limited sizes. Though customizable options may be more expensive, having a properly fitting mouthguard keeps the device securely in the mouth, ensuring that there is no interference with speaking or breathing. 

Mouthguards are invaluable, especially for those with braces or other orthodontic appliances who are at an elevated risk of dental injury. When the next sports season rolls around, ensure that your child’s smile is well-protected when they hit the field. A healthy smile is always worth it.

Dr. Larry Hutta and Dr. James Hutta are the owners of Hutta & Hutta Orthodontics.