It’s back to school time, which means that the kids are running back onto the soccer and football fields in droves. Other sports are also getting into gear, so it is a time to revisit the idea of protective mouth guards.
The mouth guard is a wonderful tool to help avoid sports related dental injuries. It is an essential piece of equipments for all people who play contact sports. I also recommend protective mouth guards for my patients who skateboard and participate in other activities that involve risk.
The custom fitted mouth guard is individually designed and fitted in the dental office, using an impression made of the teeth. While more expensive than the store purchased option, I believe that these mouth guards are well worth the money. They are more comfortable to wear and offer much better protection than the cheaper store version. My experience is that an athlete will not wear a mouth guard if it is uncomfortable, making the store purchased guard not such a good deal when it remains in the gym bag.
Another point needs to be made about sports injuries to the mouth. It is essential that immediate medical/dental treatment be sought, especially if the tooth has been knocked out. Rinse the dirt off the tooth with milk or water and, if possible, place inside the cheek of the child, or in a small container of milk. Do not touch the root surface and do not let the tooth rest dry! Get to the dentist immediately for re-implantation.
Your dentist will monitor a re-implanted tooth for years. Sometimes a root canal and/or additional treatment become necessary. Speaking from experience, my son knocked his front tooth out (jumping off the bed at a friend’s house, so he wasn’t wearing a mouth guard!) at the age of 7. Eighteen years later, after rushing to the dental office with the tooth in a cup of milk and re-implanting the tooth, the tooth remains in his mouth as strong and functional as ever!