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By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

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Topics: Pediatric Dentistry

You’ve spent a lot of money on orthodontics to ensure your children’s smiles are straight, healthy, and full of confidence. The treatment is going well, your children are showing resilience at having to wear braces, and you’re not worried about financing the procedure. Everything seems to be working out perfectly, until your child says, “I want to play hockey.”

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Daily, vigorous activity is an important part of children’s development, but when they have thousands of dollars of braces in their mouths, you might feel a little apprehension. Even if your child doesn’t have braces, you’d prefer to keep their teeth healthy. Couldn’t they take up golf or perhaps dynamic walking?

You can’t wrap your children in bubble wrap to protect them from the world, but you can take proper precautions to ensure their teeth remain undamaged during sports. Here are three things you should know about children’s sports mouthguards.


1. Do All Sports Require Mouthguards?

While it is much better to be safe than sorry, not all sports will involve a level of high intensity that requires the use of a mouthguard. Your best course of action is to consider whether or not collisions or contact during the sport are likely to occur. Swimming, for example, involves no impact (either from other players or potentially from a ball) whereas something like football involves an inherent amount of physical contact.

If there is a risk of any sort of collision happening, then it is a good idea to consider a mouthguard. Other high-impact sports include (but certainly aren’t limited to) volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey.


2. What Types of Mouthguards Exist? Which Is Best?

There are several different kinds of mouthguards available. When selecting one, the most important factor is comfort. Any of them will protect your children’s teeth, but if the mouthguard is so uncomfortable your child refuses to wear it, it won’t do anyone much good. When worn, the mouthguard shouldn’t interfere with breathing or talking.

There are three main types of mouthguards: ready made, boil and bite, and custom fit. Ready-made mouthguards can be purchased at sports stores. They are pre-formed, which means they are likely to be the most uncomfortable.

Boil-and-bite mouthguards are similar to the ready-made type, except they are designed to be heated up and then placed in the mouth in order to form to the user’s teeth. This makes them more comfortable.

Finally, there are custom-fit guards. These are made by your dentist specifically for your child. They are the costliest but also the most comfortable and best designed to fit your child’s mouth protect their teeth.


3. Caring for a Mouthguard

To remain effective, your children’s mouthguard must be maintained. To care for the guard, make sure to rinse it before and after each use, and give it a thorough cleaning with soapy water at regular intervals. Regularly check the surface of the guard for any wear and tear, such as divots or cuts. When a guard is damaged, it will not provide the same level of protection. As your child grows, watch to make sure the guard still fits.

You can also bring the mouthguard along to your child’s next dental visit and ask the dentist to take a quick look to ensure the guard is offering the appropriate level of protection.

You want your children to be safe, and a sports mouthguard is an effective way to ensure your children’s teeth are protected while they play.


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Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer, BDS, PhD, FRCD (C), an Edmonton Orthodontist who is a registered specialist and a fellow of the Canadian Royal College of Dentists of Canada in the specialty of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. He received his undergraduate degree in Dentistry in 2003 and his PhD in Orthodontics in 2012 from the University of Alberta. He founded City Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry to provide care in the City of Edmonton.

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