The importance of mouthguards
To protect the mouth and teeth from serious injury, a mouthguard, usually a flexible piece of plastic that fits into the mouth, should be worn during all recreational and athletic activities—especially activities where there is contact or potential contact with another person, piece of equipment, or the ground. In particular, mouthguards should be worn during the following sports:
Some of these sports need the use of a mouthguard at the amateur level.
Many recreational activities, such as skateboarding and bicycling, also pose a risk of injuring the mouth and teeth. Exercise caution during these activities.
Mouthguards and preventable injuries
Injuries to the teeth, mouth, and head may include the following, many of which could be prevented with proper and consistent use of a mouthguard:
Dislodged or knocked out a tooth or teeth
Broken or chipped tooth
Bitten or lacerated tongue and/or lip
Objects caught or lodged between the teeth
Jaw collision—the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw
Types of mouthguards
There are several types of mouthguards that can be used. The following are three of the most common types:
Pre-made mouthguards. One type is already made and can be found in most sports stores. There are different types and brands. Choose the one that fits best and is most comfortable.
Boil and Bite. Available at sporting goods stores, these mouthguards are softened in hot water, then adapted to the mouth while still soft.
Custom-made mouthguards. Your child's dentist can make a mouthguard specifically for your child. These may be more expensive, but usually are more comfortable for the child.
Ask your child's dentist or healthcare provider about the best type of mouthguard to use.