The right sports equipment can protect your child from injury and enhance their performance. While the need for helmets, padding, and proper footwear may be obvious, it can be easy to overlook the need for a mouthguard.

A mouthguard is a flexible, removable dental appliance. It’s designed to fit over your child’s teeth to protect their mouth from trauma.

In this blog, orthodontist Emanuel Mizrahi, DDS, of Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates in Forest Hills, New York, discusses the importance of mouthguards and how they can provide protection from common oral injuries.

How a mouthguard provides protection

The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that a child is 60 times more likely to experience tooth injuries if they don’t use a mouthguard. If something impacts a child’s mouth, a mouthguard can absorb the force and distribute it evenly to the rest of their mouth. This can provide protection against jaw injuries, cuts, and tooth fractures.

And if a child wears braces, this can further increase their chances of suffering an injury if they take a blow to their mouth. A mouthguard, however — which fits snuggly over their teeth — can act as a buffer between their braces and the rest of their mouth.

Why a custom mouthguard works best

The ADA recommends that athletes wear a mouthguard that is tear-resistant and resilient, properly fitted, and designed to permit unrestricted breathing and speech. It should also be easy to clean, so you can prevent the buildup of bacteria and food particles on the device.

A custom mouthguard meets these criteria. It’s one of the most inexpensive pieces of protective equipment available, especially when compared to the cost and inconvenience involved in restoring or replacing a tooth.

A custom mouthguard is created based on a mold of your child’s mouth. Custom-fitted mouthguards can accommodate all mouth sizes and all types of dental appliances, including braces. This type of personalized protection can even be fitted for mouths affected by a cleft palate, a protruding jaw, or a receding chin.

Because it’s designed specifically for your child’s mouth, a custom mouthguard provides a snug fit against their teeth without the need for clenching or biting down. In addition to providing optimal protection, a custom mouthguard may provide an advantage in reducing your child’s resistance to wearing this type of device.

When a mouthguard is most effective

Injuries can occur in any sport, so it’s wise to insist that your child wear their mouthguard at every practice and game.

Athletes who participate in a contact sport, such as football, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, or soccer, have the highest risk of getting hit in the face. Those who participate in activities or noncontact sports with a high fall risk, such as gymnastics, ice skating, or biking, are also vulnerable to mouth injuries.

A mouthguard can also protect your child if they’re prone to bruxism, or teeth grinding. Covering your child’s teeth with a mouthguard while they sleep can prevent wear and tear that can damage teeth and cause jaw pain, stiffness, and headaches if left untreated.

To find out more about the benefits of mouthguards and the protection they can provide, book an appointment over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.