Your Child Should Never Play Sports Without This One Item


One question my patients always ask me is, “Doc, does my child really need a mouth guard for sports?” And I always respond with, “Do you want your child to lose a tooth or suffer a preventable concussion?” Of course you don’t!  Unfortunately, though, a properly fitting mouthguard for sports is one of those things many parents and athletes do not think about until an injury occurs. 

Playing sports that aren’t typically defined as “full-contact” still carry a risk of tooth damage or loss – a misplaced elbow in volleyball, a ball to the face in softball or baseball or a misjudged header in soccer. According to the American Dental Association, “numerous surveys of sports-related dental injuries have documented that participants of all ages, genders and skill levels are at risk of sustaining dental injuries in sporting activities, including organized and unorganized sports at both recreational and competitive levels.” A mouth guard is a surefire way to protect your child’s permanent teeth.

How Do Mouth Guards Protect Teeth

Mouth guards typically look like dental trays that fit snugly over the upper teeth and gums. The material creates a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing any hard jarring or outside impacts like balls and pucks.  This is supremely important in concussion prevention, due to the shock absorbing effect.  Similarly, the cushion of a mouthguard helps prevent trauma to the teeth, either from direct trauma to the teeth, or from the teeth themselves colliding forcefully during impact.  With today’s focus on concussion prevention across all sports, a well-fitted mouthguard should be required equipment.

My first choice in mouthguard selection is a customized appliance that is made in our office from a highly accurate, often digital impression.  This style of mouthguard offers the best fit with the least bulk, and we can adjust it as necessary quickly and easily.  This is important because it allows for unhindered speech and breathing while still offering the best in protection vs. a store-bought mouthguard.

If you do choose a store-bought mouthguard, I recommend looking for the ADA Seal which ensures the product is safe, won’t harm or irritate oral soft tissues, is free of sharp edges, resists tearing, withstands impact and won’t damage braces or other orthodontic appliances.

What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Wear A Mouth Guard?

Simply put, without the protection a mouth guard offers your child is susceptible to trauma that requires emergency dental care. This type of trauma includes:

A Concussion: A mouthguard provides a high level of shock-absorption.

A Completely Knocked-Out Tooth: Something flies through the air (ball, elbow or helmet) and hits your child in the mouth, dislodging a tooth.

A Knocked-Loose Tooth: A tooth is mobilized or displaced.  Seeking emergency care can improve the chances of retaining the tooth and minimizing required treatment in the long run.

A Cut In The Mouth: A collision can easily cut the gums or other soft tissue in the mouth, possibly requiring stitches.

Certainly, there are some children who play sports for years and never suffer these types of injuries, but those are odds I do not want to play with my own kids, or yours.  This is especially evident when distraught athletes and parents realize that the concussion/injury/trauma was preventable.  Prevention is far better than the cure, and costs a whole lot less.

Prevention is actually the cornerstone of our practice, especially when it comes to our dental service for kids. If you’re looking for a dentist for you or your child in or near Lincoln, Neb., give us a call. I’m happy to answer any questions about your dental health.

Dr. Craig Vacek