Keeping children safe when they’re playing sports is always a worry for any parent. We outfit our kids in the best gear possible in order to elevate their prowess on the field, but also to keep them safer. But there’s one piece of equipment where we often see parents buying an over-the-counter option – probably because they don’t realize there is a better option.
This article looks at the issue of athletic mouth guards and how a properly fitted dental guard can help keep kids better protected on the field of play.
Athletic Mouth Guard Technology
An inexpensive stock mouth protector can be purchased at most big box sporting goods retailers. There’s not a lot that can be done with the fit – they are truly one-size-fits-all. Parents can also buy the mouth guards that you boil to soften them, then (after a little cooling) place them in the mouth and form them around the teeth and gums. Both of these options can work, but they simply aren’t the best option for your budding young athlete.
To properly protect the teeth and gums, Dr. Hadley recommends a custom-fitted mouth protector. These devices are created exclusively for your child and are more comfortable and safer than over-the-counter mouth guards. These guards are typically for the upper set of teeth, but if your child wears braces, we may also suggest a lower guard, as well. Mouth guards should not restrict breathing or speech, be very comfortable to wear, and simple to clean. We find that generic mouth guards simply do not fit these three categories.
State-of-the-Art Mouth Guards
Custom fitting the right mouth guard starts with an impression of your child’s teeth and gums. Dr. Hadley’s team uses the state-of-the-art Under Armour Performance Mouthwear™ which actually tilts the jaw forward just slightly, reducing the pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This reduces the teeth grinding that comes naturally during athletic play. Studies have even shown that it helps reduce the hormone that causes fatigue, thus enhancing athletic performance.
The Under Armour brochure lists four key benefits to this mouth guard:
- Increases the strength of the athlete by reducing jaw tension and teeth grinding.
- Improves airflow, reduces any lactic acid build up in the muscles.
- Reduces stress.
- Reduces impact.
When you clench your jaw, naturally occurring chemicals are reduced that are connected to the “fight or flight” patterns of human behavior. These hormones naturally sap the athletic performance – whether it’s a child or an adult. It’s amazing how the right mouth guard can make a difference on the athletic field.
Superior mouth protection is important in any sport, whether it is high or low contact.
Dr. Hadley fits these mouth guards for athletes in all kinds of sports, including:
- Ice hockey
- Martial arts
If you’re looking for a way to give your child a new competitive edge on the field, talk to Dr. Hadley and his team about how a performance-fitted mouth guard can make a difference.