For most parents, fall means back to school, and for some, it means back to school sports. But while all that exercise may be great for your children’s muscles, it can often be bad news for their teeth. In fact, it is estimated that children lose about 3 million teeth a year to sports accidents! While many school districts and leagues have begun requiring mouthguards for all players, many still do not, and even if you buy one for your child, if it doesn’t fit right or feel comfortable, chances are your kid’s not going to wear it. So, how can you choose the right mouth guard without breaking the bank – or your teeth?
The type of mouthguard you need depends on the type of activity you or your athlete will be participating in. There are guards designed specifically for sports from wrestling to hockey and everything in between. Once you know what sport you need a guard for, your next step is determining what type of guard you need.
There are three basic types of mouthguard available: stock, boil and bite, and custom. Each of these guards has its own pros and cons, depending on your budget and what you need from your mouthguard.
Stock mouthguards are pre-formed and available at most sporting goods or drug stores. These are usually made of rubber to cushion the bite, but they are rarely comfortable, and their awkward shape makes them more likely to sit in the bottom of your child’s gym bag than in their mouth. Unfortunately, even if your athlete does wear his or her stock mouthguard, it may not be enough protection – due to their imprecise fit, they are somewhat ineffective. Stock mouthguards do have the advantage of being extremely affordable, but if they’re too uncomfortable to wear, you’re not saving any money.
Boil and bite guards are the most popular type of sports mouthguard. They allow for a more customized fit, which offers better protection for the teeth as well as greater comfort for the wearer. Though they are not as cumbersome as stock guards, boil and bite guards can sometimes be bulky and awkward, which may decrease the chance of your child wearing it. If you choose a boil and bite guard, be sure to buy the correct size for you or your child’s mouth. Boil and bite guards often come in fun colors and some are even flavored to make them more enjoyable for kids to wear. They range in price from $20 and up, and some even allow room for braces.
Custom mouthguards are usually ordered through a dentist and can be molded precisely around your teeth. Some custom mouthguards are so precise, you can hardly tell you’re wearing them. Custom mouthguards offer the highest degree of protection of any mouthguard on the market, but they come at a much higher price point. Custom guards are a great option for athletes who have finished growing and who do not intend to undergo orthodontic treatment that would cause the mouthguard to no longer fit properly Custom mouthguards can even be customized based on the sport they will be used for. Though custom mouthguards can range anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1,000, a custom mouthguard is a wise investment in your teeth – especially when you consider how much it costs to repair a cracked tooth or filling.
If you are interested in learning more about custom mouthguards, or about how to better protect your or your child’s teeth during sports, please give Dr. George’s office a call at 724-934-3422.