Mouth Guards

Boy with soccer ball smiling

Mouth guards can play a significant role in protecting your child’s teeth. If your child regularly takes part in contact sports or activities with a risk of tooth injury, a mouth guard will help keep them safe as they play.

Guards can be either custom made or store bought, and the two options have different pros and cons. If you think your child would benefit from a mouth guard, ask Dr. Hester what he recommends at their next appointment.

Sports Guards

Most athletic organizations require the use of mouth guards for proper protection. Because force to the jaw can be transmitted to the brain, wearing a mouth guard helps reduce the risk of a traumatic brain injury. Sports guards also protect both the teeth and the soft tissues in the mouth. Overall, a sports guard helps your child have fun without experiencing an injury.

There are a few types of sports guards to consider for your child:

  • Stock mouth guards – These are one size fits all, and can be purchased at your local drugstore. This is the most affordable guard, but also offers the least protection because it’s not customized to your child’s mouth. Stock guards are also less comfortable and can make regular breathing more difficult.
  • Boil and bite mouth guards – These guards are customizable at home, and available at a drugstore or sporting goods store. The plastic guard is heated in water, then pressed onto your child’s teeth so that it molds to their jaw. These guards offer more protection than stock guards and are more comfortable.
  • Custom mouth guards – A custom guard is fabricated by Dr. Hester from an impression of your child’s teeth. This type of guard offers the greatest protection because it is a perfect fit. This guard is more expensive than other options, but is also the most effective and most comfortable. If your child frequently plays high-risk sports and you have the budget, a custom guard could be ideal.

Grinding Guards

Nighttime teeth grinding is common for children, and can go undiagnosed because it happens without the child realizing they’re clenching and grinding. If grinding continues over time, the teeth can become sensitive, worn down, or may chip. Your child may also experience a tight, sore jaw or chronic headaches.

Night guards are less commonly recommended for children than they are for adults. The only cases in which a night guard may be appropriate are if there is a risk of damage to permanent teeth or other lasting problems. Because a child’s mouth is growing, it’s difficult to fit a guard without needing to remake it frequently. Many children who experience bruxism while young do grow out of it, so there is potential for the condition to fade.

If you think your child may be grinding their teeth, get in touch and Dr. Hester will evaluate their teeth and tell you more about potential causes.