Children that participate in organized sports need to wear mouthguards to protect their teeth, but since multiple types of mouthguards are available, choosing an appropriate model can be difficult for parents. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are commercially available and can be fitted at home, while custom-made mouthguards are available through dentists. Which of these options is best for your child? Here are four factors to consider when making your decision.
Stage of Tooth Development
When choosing a mouthguard for your child, you need to take their stage of tooth development into account. If your child's baby teeth are starting to fall out and be replaced with adult teeth, the fit of their mouthguard will need to be adjusted regularly. For children in this stage, it's a good idea to select a boil-and-bite mouthguard. These mouthguards are boiled in hot water and then molded to the child's mouth; this can be done multiple times as your child's bite changes.
If your child has all of their permanent teeth, you don't need to worry about a frequently changing bite, and a custom-made mouthguard may be a worthwhile investment. These mouthguards are made by dentists and have a perfect fit. This makes them more expensive, but since your child's teeth have stabilized, they can use the mouthguard until it wears out or breaks.
Your child's preferred sports also need to be taken into consideration when choosing a mouthguard. If your child participates in a high-risk sport, they need the most effective mouthguard available, which is a custom-made mouthguard from the dentist. In some sports—like wrestling—wearing custom-made mouthguards on both the upper and lower jaws may be a requirement to participate, so ask your child's coach for guidance.
Studies have indicated that the following sports are associated with the highest number of dental injuries:
You may have heard that children that wear braces can't wear mouthguards, but fortunately, this is just a myth. If your child wears braces, they can and should wear a mouthguard, though their braces need to be considered while you're shopping for an appropriate mouthguard.
Since your child's teeth will be moving regularly during their treatment, a boil-and-bite mouthguard designed for braces is the most inexpensive solution. Standard boil-and-bite mouthguards aren't wide enough to allow room for their brackets and wires, so it's important to select one that is designed for braces. However, these mouthguards need to be bulky to fit around their braces, so they may find them uncomfortable.
Custom-made mouthguards can be made for children with braces. These mouthguards are less bulky than boil-and-bite models which makes them more comfortable for young athletes. As your child's orthodontist makes adjustment to their braces, you'll need to return to the dentist to have the mouthguard adjusted and re-fitted.
The final consideration when shopping for a mouthguard for your athletic child is price. With mouthguards, the saying "you get what you pay for" certainly rings true, so select the best mouthguard that you can afford.
Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be purchased for less than $25, while a custom-made mouthguard can cost anywhere between $60 and $285. This wide range in prices is due to each child's individual dental needs—like braces—but your dentist will be able to give you a more precise estimate. Your insurance company may cover some or all of the cost of a custom-made mouthguard, so check your policy.
Choosing the right sports mouthguard for your child can be confusing. When you're shopping for a mouthguard, make sure to consider your child's stage of tooth development, their preferred sports, any orthodontic treatments, and of course, your price range. If you're having trouble selecting a mouthguard, ask a dentist from a clinic like Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics for guidance.