Sports safety has made the headlines in recent years, especially with concerns over long term head injuries and concussions. An alarming new fact has gotten the attention of Fairfield Dental Associates. Four out of 10 American children do not use mouthguards when playing high contact sports such as football or hockey. A new survey from Delta Dental found only 60 percent of children participating in fall and winter sports wear mouth protection. More alarming? Only 32 percent of parents said their child wears a mouthguard for football. The amount is even lower for field hockey at 14 percent. LaCrosse and ice hockey have the worst compliance at 11 percent. So, why is this happening? Perhaps is it a lack of good information on sports safety which can easily be gotten from your dentist. Fairfield Dental Associates is a practice who can advise parents and also customize dental proection for their young athletes.
"Something as simple as a mouthguard could be the difference between a safe sporting activity and a trip to the emergency room," said Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association's vice president of dental science and policy. "A conversation with your dentist, and a well-fitting mouthguard, can help ensure children who play contact sports keep their smiles healthy."
A 10-year study of mouth and jaw injuries found that roughly 32 percent of facial trauma cases in children occurred during sports activities. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry points to research showing baseball (just 22 percent of children wear mouth protection while playing the sport) and basketball (24 percent) have the highest number of sports-related dental injuries.
Mouthguards by Type
There are three types of mouthguards:
- Ready-made or stock: Since the fit can't be adjusted, they're less effective than a fitted option.
- Mouth-formed "boil and bite": These can be purchased at many sporting goods stores, and can be molded to the individual's mouth.
- Custom-made: These are considered the best option, but are also the most expensive. Since they are made by your dentist from a mold of your child's teeth, they fit tightly and correctly, are the most comfortable and more likely to be worn.
According to the American Dental Association, the most effective mouth protection should be comfortable, resistant to tearing and resilient. It should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned and not restrict speech or breathing.
Beware O-T-C Varieties
Mouth protection can help but you must be selective. A 2014 study published in General Dentistry by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) found that athletes wearing over-the-counter (OTC) devices were over twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injury than athletes wearing protection made by a dental professional. The study gathered data from 412 players from six high school football teams. Scientists believe the thickness of these guards greatly impact the rate of head injuries. Custom-made devices in this particular study were 3.50 millimeters, with OTC devices measuring 1.65 millimeters.
Custom mouth protection provides a custom-fit which is especially important. In most cases OTC protection does not fit correctly. That means they lack the best protection and they tend to be uncomfortable which leads to lower compliance rates among young athletes. It is really money wasted when there is a dis-incentive to wear a protective appliance because it is ill-fitting. Fairfield Dental Associates makes custom mouthguards and can fit young athletes with the protection they need for the specific sports in which they participate. OTC alternatives cannot do this.
Dr. Katherine Finkel at Fairfield Dental Associates is an expert at fabricating mouthguards to protect your young athlete in all kinds of sports. A custom device will give you the piece of mind you need as a parent that your child is protected.
Contact our office with any questions or to schedule your young athlete for a fitting.