With spring and summer sports upon us, and with summer camps approaching, we’d like to talk about the importance of your child wearing a mouth guard while playing sports. Many people think that mouth guards are only for high contact sports, or for high school athletes. However, the American Dental Association recommends that they be used at whatever age your child begins to play sports where they are at risk of contact with another person, or a sport with high risk of head injury.
The sports for which the ADA recommends mouth guards be worn are: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Even if children aren’t at a level where they are making a lot of physical contact, making the mouth guard a part of the sports uniform is a great habit to start at a young age.
Not only do mouth guards help prevent dental injuries, they also help prevent concussions according to a study by peer reviewed journal ‘General Dentistry.’ It is thought to absorb some of the shock that causes concussions. Another benefit is teeth grinding! If game nerves make your child clench or grind their teeth, a mouth guard can help alleviate the pressure.
A study by the ADA found that individuals are sixty percent more likely to damage their teeth while playing sports if they are not wearing a mouth guard. The ADA also estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries per year. Although the number of sports related tooth injuries tops 600,000 per year.
Be sure to rinse your mouth guard with water after each use, allow to dry completely, and store in a container with holes for ventilation. Every week or so, we recommend that you deep clean your mouth guard. There are a number of ways you can do this.
One way is to use an over-the-counter denture cleaner. Check your local drug store and look for tablets or mixtures that dissolve in water. Fill up a glass with warm water, dissolve the tablet and soak your mouth guard for 20 minutes or so. Most denture cleaner products have easy to follow instructions on the back of the package. It is important not to soak your mouth guard for longer than it is recommended.
A second method would be to use a mix of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Use a regular glass and fill it up with distilled vinegar. Soak the mouth guard for up to 30 minutes. Try not to exceed that time limit.
After soaking, remove the mouth guard and rinse it with water. Do the same for the glass or bowl that you used. Now, fill up the same container with hydrogen peroxide and soak the mouth guard for another 30 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the guard and wash it with warm water. This second method takes longer, but it will completely remove bacteria and plaque from your mouth guard.
A third option is to use mouthwash and water. Use 30-40ml of any respectable mouthwash and mix it up with a cup of water. You should end up with a 250-300ml worth of mixture. Once the mouthwash is fully diluted, soak the mouth guard in and leave it there for 30 minutes. Once you remove your mouth guard from the mix, rinse it and leave it to dry on a flat and clean surface.
As always, call our office with any questions!