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Top 5 reasons to Add a Mouthguard to Your Child’s Back-to-School Shopping List

For many, back-to-school preparations will soon be underway and fall sports will begin. Whether your child participates in organized sports or after school pickup games, you may want to add a mouthguard to your shopping list for school supplies.

Approximately 44 million American children participate in at least one organized sports team, according to statistics published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.[1] An estimated 3 million teeth are knocked out in youth sporting events each year.[2] Yet, a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists found that 67 percent of parents said their children do not wear a mouthguard.[3]

Here are the top five reasons your child should wear one:

1. Injury prevention

Mouthguards can help prevent chips, cracks, knockouts and other impact-related injuries. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends their use in sports and activities that pose a strong likelihood for contact with other players and hard surfaces.[4] Examples include soccer, football, volleyball, wrestling, rugby, martial arts, skateboarding, bicycling, inline skating, softball and lacrosse.

Athletes who do not wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth, according to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and the American Dental Association estimates that wearing them prevents more than 200,000 oral injuries each year. [5] However, 84 percent of children do not wear mouthguards because they are not required to wear them.[6]

If your child is reluctant to wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports or other activities that have potential oral injuries, make sure the topic is discussed at his or her next physical or dental exam.

2. Savings

Relatively speaking, mouthguards don’t cost much. On the other hand, orofacial and dental injuries can cost a lot—not to mention the physical price you pay for the pain they induce.

Stock mouthguards, which may be purchased online or at drug or sporting goods stores, cost anywhere from less than a dollar to $5. Boil and bite mouthguards, which may also be purchased at such retailers, are slightly more customizable and run from $5 to $50. Many kids complain about these versions being uncomfortable and making it difficult to breath, which means they may be less likely to wear them. A custom-fit athletic mouthguard can be obtained through your dentist for around $190, according to Healthcare Bluebook’s Fair Price estimates.[7]

For many parents, any of these options are a better bargain than the hundreds to thousands charged for repairing or replacing an avulsed—that is, knocked out—tooth or fixing other injuries to the mouth, jaw or face.

3. The concussion connection

There has been much debate around whether or not mouthguards prevent some sports-related concussions by helping to absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw. [8]

Findings from a study published in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry suggest that certain mouthguards may at least limit their severity.[9] The study found that high school football players who wore properly fitted, custom mouthguards were less likely to suffer concussions than those wearing a store-bought mouthguard. However, as one of the study’s authors stated, while more research around this topic is needed, the findings show the value of a custom mouthguard.

Some manufacturers claim their mouthguards prevent concussion, but there is not published scientific evidence backing such claims. Regardless, your child should wear them to prevent orofacial and dental injuries[10]—and know there may or may not be an added benefit of lessening concussion severity.

4. Leading by example

Your child may resist wearing a mouthguard due to peer pressure; however, he or she can set a good example by wearing one. As with helmets, padding and other safety gear, when kids see their peers—and parents and coaches see their peers reinforcing their use—they may be more willing to put them on. Be sure to wear one yourself as a way to reinforce this norm.

5. Team pride

Mouthguards come in an array of colors. It may serve as a protective device, but it can double as an accessory. Select something that matches your child’s sports uniform to get him or her excited about wearing one.

To learn more about the different types of mouthguards and what makes one effective, check out the American College of Prosthodontists official statement on mouthguard use in sports.

Ensure this school year is as safe as possible. Take preventive and precautionary measures to help stay out of the emergency room and on the field. Talk with your child’s dentist or doctor if you have questions about athletic mouthguards.

 

Originally published Aug. 14, 2012. Reviewed and updated July 25, 2016.

 


[1] Moreno, Megan, et al. “Children and Organized Sports.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. April 4, 2011. http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=384448

[2] American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “Play it Safe: Prevent Childhood Injuries on the Field with Simple Sports Safety Precautions.” April 2, 2012. http://www.aapd.org/play_it_safe_prevent_childhood_injuries_on_the_field_with_simple_sports_safety_precautions/

[3] Ibid.

[4] Academy of General Dentistry. “What is a Mouthguard?” Last reviewed January 2012. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=M&iid=313&aid=1269

[5] American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “Play it Safe: Prevent Childhood Injuries on the Field with Simple Sports Safety Precautions.” April 2, 2012. http://www.aapd.org/play_it_safe_prevent_childhood_injuries_on_the_field_with_simple_sports_safety_precautions/

[6] Ibid.

[7] Healthcare Bluebook. “Athletic Mouthguard.” Accessed July 21, 2016. https://healthcarebluebook.com/page_ProcedureDetails.aspx?id=153&dataset=dental&g=Athletic+mouthguard

[8] Stone, Paul. “Custom-Made Mouthguards May Help Prevent Sports-Related Brain Injuries.” Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital. May 1, 2014. http://www.traumaticbraininjury.net/custom-made-mouthguards-may-help-prevent-sports-related-brain-injuries/

[9] Ibid.

[10] American College of Prosthodontics. “Position Statement: Mouthguard Use in Sports.” Revised and approved by the ACP Board of Directors on Oct. 20, 2015. https://www.prosthodontics.org/assets/1/7/Mouthguard_Use_in_Sports_Position_Statment.pdf

 

 

 

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