If your child plays contact sports, the youngster may be risking damage to his or her teeth. To protect the child's teeth during play, your dentist may suggest a sports guard. However, all mouthguards designed for use during sports are not the same, and you may find it difficult to select one that is suitable for your child.
Here are a few details about several types of sports mouthguards to aid you in your selection:
Stock Sports Guards
Stock guards are mouthguards that can be purchased over-the-counter. They tend to be less expensive than other sports guard options. However, they also provide less protection.
Stock mouthguards are designed for use straight out of the packaging. The guards are pre-formed, so they have a generic shape that tends to fit the mouth loosely.
Some stock sports guards even come flavored. There is no sugar in the device to damage your youngster's teeth, and the flavoring may help encourage your child to wear a guard more faithfully during sporting activities.
In order for a stock guard to work properly, your child should continually bite down on the guard when the device is in use. Without continual pressure, the mouthpiece may slip out of position, making the device even less protective.
Boil-and-bite Sports Guards
Boil-and-bite sports guards can also be purchased at local stores. These guards fit in the mouth more precisely than stock mouthguards. In addition, they are relatively inexpensive.
Boil-and-bite guards typically include instructions from the manufacturer to place the guard in boiling water for a period, allowing the device to become malleable. The guard should then be removed from the water and placed into your child's mouth. As a child bites down on the softened guard, the plastic cools and hardens. This results in a more customized fit and helps the sports guard remain in place for better protection during play. Still, if a boil-and-bite guard is bitten with too much force, the plastic may become overly thin, resulting in less protection for the teeth.
Customized Sports Guards
Professionally made customized sports guards are available from a dentist. The guards are fashioned from an impression of your child's mouth. As a result, they fit more exactly in the mouth than their counterparts. In addition, due to the durable materials from which the guards are made, they tend to last much longer than over-the-counter sports guards. Thus, unless the contours of your child's mouth change significantly, a customized sports guard should last for multiple seasons.
If your child plays sports and you would like to purchase a customized mouth guard for the youngster, schedule a consultation with a family dentist in your local area.