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The first high school football game is still months away, but practice is in full swing. Porscha Jefferson, DMD, a U o fL School of Dentistry pediatric dental resident, explains the importance of mouth guards for young athletes and the options they have.
1. The importance of sport mouth guards: · protects your mouth by serving as cushion from blows that would otherwise cause broken teeth · protects against injuries to the lips, tongue, lower jaw and the joint · may protect athletes against concussions and may enhance an athletes' performance
2. The different types of mouth guards:
a. There are three types of mouth guards: · The ready made, or stock mouth guard · The mouth formed or "boil and bite" mouth guard · The custom made mouth guard made by a dentist
b. All properly fitted mouth guards provide some varying degree of protection. The most effective mouth guard should have several features. It should: · be resilient · be tear resistant · comfortable · fit properly · be durable and easy to clean · not restrict your speech or breathing
c. A custom fitted mouth guard professionally made in the dental office can be tailored to the demands of the athlete and the particular sport they are playing.
3. Which sport teams need mouth guards:
a. Any athlete can benefit from mouth guards. However there are some sports that require mouth guards. · Football · Boxing · Ice hockey · Lacrosse · Women's field hockey · Basketball
b. Mouth guards help protect teeth even in non-contact sports, such as gymnastics. Many experts recommend that a mouth guard be worn for any recreational activity that poses a risk of injury to the mouth.
4. At what age should you wear sport mouth guards:
a. I believe that it's not the particular age that is important but a child should start wearing a mouth guard when they are participating in any recreational activity that could possible cause injury to their teeth or face.
b. It may be more economically beneficial for a child in the mixed dentition to wear ready-made mouth guards or boil and bite mouth guards until their permanent premolars have completely erupted, which is around 11-12 yrs of age.
5. How should mouth guards be worn, cleaned and stored:
a. Mouth guards should only be worn when playing any recreational activity that could cause injury to the face.
b. Mouth guards should fit teeth securely and be taken out as soon as the activity is over.
c. It is very important to clean them properly with warm water and a toothbrush after every use, and to store them in a container in a room temperature environment, out of site of young children and animals.