About 25 million kids around the United States participate in a competitive sport. More boys and girls are hitting the playing field or the court – learning important lessons about teamwork, dedication, and wellness that can last a lifetime.

As your son or daughter starts a sport, it’s natural to be concerned. Safety is always important, and enthusiastic youngsters might not take all the precautions they should. Parents and coaches should work together to maximize their safety.

One piece of equipment shouldn’t be overlooked: A mouthguard.

Crucial to Safety

If a child sprains an ankle while playing a favorite sport, he or she will probably be up and running (literally!) within days. The same is true of many other minor scrapes. Injuries to teeth and gums, however, can have more serious consequences that may last into adulthood.

Healthy teeth rely on complex interior structures and nerves. A fall or other sports accident could lead to a dental emergency. In many cases, there’s only a brief window of time to save damaged teeth. A mouthguard helps ensure the teeth are always protected.

A mouthguard can prevent impact trauma to the teeth. It also protects the child from biting too hard, which may damage the interior of the mouth or the tongue.

In Which Sports Should Kids Use Mouthguards?

Mouthguards are typically used in sports including:

child with mouthguard playing football

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Martial Arts

What’s the rule of thumb? Kids playing contact sports should use mouthguards. That includes games like “flag football,” modified from their adult form to involve less contact – accidents can still happen.

What about solo and pair sports?

Mouthguards are less likely to be necessary in solo sports, including track and field or swimming. Pair sports, like tennis, typically don’t require them either. That said, it never hurts to use a mouthguard in any situation where you believe there’s a risk. Even some skateboarders use mouthguards!

Protection from Serious Dental Issues

Knocking out a tooth is probably the most common dental danger for young athletes. Tooth fractures are also a serious risk, and should be treated immediately if they occur. But mouthguards also protect kids from less obvious problems:

  • Tooth Displacement: Sometimes, trauma to the teeth will leave them loose, even though they’re fully intact. This makes it more likely you’ll lose that tooth in the future! A mouthguard might prevent it entirely.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: If you lose your balance during a fall or collision with another person, there’s a chance of biting down hard on the lips, tongue, or inner cheeks. With no mouthguard, these injuries can be severe enough to require stitches.
  • Jaw Fractures: Fractures can occur even if you aren’t struck in the head – when your teeth close tightly after impact. A mouthguard acts to absorb shock in this case, making the incident much less dangerous.

Recent research even suggests mouthguards may help protect against concussions.

Boy sitting on soccer ball (portrait, low angle view)

Tribeca Dental Care

At Tribeca Dental Care, we’re experts in preventive dentistry, including fitted mouthguards for sports. Before your child hits the playing field for the first time, bring him or her in for a quick visit. Our team will be glad to advise you on the best ways to protect young smiles!

For an appointment, call (212) 431-4582.

 

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