Does Your Child Play Sports?
Like most parents, you’re fiercely proud of your child’s athletic abilities but you may worry about them getting injured. Most athletes run the risk of dental emergencies, so your first goal may be to learn ways to prevent or minimize tooth and jaw damage.
Dr. DiStefano has extensive knowledge and experience in sports related dental injuries from serving as a member of the Michigan State University sports medicine team, as well as TMJ which, affects many athletes. Doc is truly on YOUR TEAM to help keep your child’s smile safe and sound. He and his team are your best offense to improve your family’s health. We encourage you to share with your child the helpful information we’ve listed below.
Mouthguards are Essential
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists more than 600,000 emergency room visits per year due to sports-related dental injuries. It’s estimated that with 200,000 of those cases, mouthguards have prevented oral injuries and cut the risk of concussion by 50%. Mouthguards can also help prevent jaw fractures and neck injuries.
Keep It Clean!
You’re usually telling your kids to clean their room. It’s also important to remind them to keep their mouthguards clean. Mouthguards appear solid, but are actually quite porous, and microorganisms can cling to them, causing a build up of bacteria, yeasts and molds. This build up can lead to infectious and inflammatory diseases that can cause not only tooth decay, but threaten the life of the wearer. Symptoms such as wheezing, difficult breathing, nausea and diarrhea could indicate that an athlete’s mouthguard is infected.
The following are guidelines to keep mouthguards clean:
- Brush teeth before wearing
- Never share a mouthguard
- Clean after each use and before storing
- Store in a case or clean baggie
It’s Not a Chew Toy!
You may have seen athletes chewing on their mouthguards during televised college and professional games. Those athletes are bad role models! Remind your child that chewing their mouthguard will alter it so that it no longer serves the purpose of protecting their teeth, and could cause tooth or gum damage. It may also make it more porous, allowing more bacteria to collect.
They’re Not Just for Football!
Basketball players are fifteen times more likely to sustain an orofacial injury, and that includes pick-up games with friends. Soccer players are also at a higher risk than football players. Virtually any sport that risks a sudden fall or a collision warrants the use of a mouthguard, including in-line skating, martial arts, softball, rugby, wrestling and lacrosse.
Remove the Barbell
If your child has a tongue piercing, remind them to remove their barbell before participating in sports. A collision with another athlete may dislodge the tongue jewelry, which could be inhaled or swallowed, causing severe injury. If they keep the jewelry in, and add a mouthguard, it could interfere with salivary flow and cause them to gag or to have difficulty breathing or speaking.
Your Child Is One of A Kind
The best mouthguard is one that is custom made for him or her. It will fit better and be more comfortable, so your child will be more apt to wear it. Mouth-formed guards are warmed and partially molded to teeth. They do not fit as well nor last as long as a custom-made guard. Stock mouthguards are the least expensive but cannot really be adjusted to fit, yet many dentists will tell you that any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all.
If your child is an athlete, please make sure that Dr. DiStefano is aware of it. He’ll be able to give them the information and support they need. Doc is also a sports lover and will be thrilled to talk sports with you and your child.
Please call us to schedule your next visit or if you have any questions. Dr. DiStefano, your favorite Howell Family Dentist 517-546-8983
Read more about performance enhancing mouth guards.
We also have a helpful article posted regarding general dental care for kids and teens.