If you are the parent of a child who is involved in sports, here are a few statistics you need to be aware of—more than 3 million teeth are knocked out in youth sports and children are 60 times more likely to have damaged teeth when they don't wear mouth guards. With these alarming statistics, there's no doubt you'll run out and get your child a mouth guard.
However, taking care of the mouth guard is equally important. A damaged mouth guard may not provide the necessary protection for your child's teeth. Here are a few recommendations on how to take care of the mouth guard.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is important for the overall health of your student athlete, of course. But did you know that dehydration can cause problems in their mouth and throat as well as with their mouth guard? Dry mouth is one of the first signs of dehydration. The lack of sufficient saliva in your student athlete's mouth can result in a bacteria breeding ground. Without enough saliva, there may not be enough lubrication in between the mouth guard and your child's gum tissue, which could lead to abrasions in the gums. The accumulation of bacteria and an open wound is an infection waiting to happen.
Avoid hot water and other liquids
Heat is often used to sculpt mouth guards to the shape of the teeth, gums, and inner cheeks. Heat can also cause the mouth guard to become misshapen. Do not use hot water to rinse the mouth guard. Teach your child to not drink hot liquids when they are wearing their mouth guard. If they do, by chance, take a sip of a hot liquid, they should wait a few minutes before reinserting the mouth guard so it is not affected by the temperature change.
Clean the mouth guard regularly
A quick rinse in a water fountain may not be enough to rinse off contaminants. The mouth guard should be cleaned on a regular basis, particularly after an illness. Give the mouth guard a gentle brushing with toothpaste or a denture or mouth guard cleaner when necessary. Thoroughly disinfect, especially after an illness, by using a denture bath to clean the mouth guard. If you purchased the mouth guard from a dentist, he or she may have recommendations and/or products available for cleaning the mouth guard.
Store it away properly when not in use
Your child's idea of storing a mouth guard may be to toss it into his or her gym bag or to leave it attached to their helmet. However, it's a good idea to store the mouth guard in an appropriate container when it's not being used so that dirt, germs, and other contaminants don't accumulate on the mouth guard. This will also help keep the mouth guard from drying out and/or getting smashed, which can change the shape and make it ineffective. Mouth guard holders can be purchased through your dentist's office and at most major sporting goods stores.
Replace the mouth guard when necessary
Mouth guards are meant to withstand brunt forces, but they weren't designed to last forever. At some point, the mouth guard will need to be replaced due to your child's growth, a change in their teeth, or when the mouth guard is damaged. One thing that is important to understand is that some athletes naturally bite down on their mouth guards during game play, such as when a linebacker sacks the quarterback. Check for changes in the mouth guard regularly so you can get a replacement for it before it fails completely or no longer fits properly.
For more information, contact a business such as Premier Dental Group.