As a parent, you have plenty to worry about when your child starts to play sports. Scrapes and bruises, practice times, scheduling family dinners around a busy schedule, and remembering when it’s your turn to bring the team snack are only a few of the items on your busy to-do list. With all the equipment to remember, practice car pool to drive, and laundry to wash, many parents ask their dentist if the suggested mouth guard is really necessary.

In a nutshell, yes. The mouth guard is important to children, older kids, and to adults playing sports. While it may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, most athletes quickly get used to it. Further the benefits of wearing a mouth guard and the lower risk of injury to the mouth and teeth are critical to ensuring the health of your mouth.

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What is a mouth guard, exactly?

A mouth guard is a dental appliance that is usually made of thin, comfortable plastic that is used to protect the mouth during sport activities.

What kinds of injuries do mouth guards help to prevent?

Most people think that mouth guards protect the teeth from being broken or knocked out. While that’s true, they also protect damage to the lips, cheek, and roots of the teeth. And they can help to prevent a jaw fracture and even a concussion.

Who should use a mouth guard?

Anyone playing a sport should consider using a mouth guard. Some sports such as football, hockey, and boxing require the use of mouth guard because they are considered collision sports. However, most dentists recommend that patients playing soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, basketball, baseball, and volleyball consider the use of a mouth guard as well. Players can’t anticipate when they may be hit in the face with a ball, or when they may come into contact with another player’s elbow, shoulder, or the ground. Preventing an oral injury is easier, and safer, than fixing one.

My child doesn’t like his mouth guard, what should I do?

While the mouth guard may feel awkward at first, the only real way to get past that feeling of discomfort is to keep wearing it. Like all oral appliances it will become more comfortable with time and practice. In fact, most players who wear a mouth guard barely notice them at all.

Dr. Dean Dietrich of Pleasant Dental® has been helping patients keep their mouths in top shape for many years. Conveniently located in Dolton, Illinois, Dr. Dietrich’s practice is a great resource for patients and parents of young patients to turn with questions about keeping their mouths healthy. For more information about mouth guards, call Dr. Dietrich today.

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