Many Aussies are preparing to close their pools for the winter, and even our most avid surf buddies will reconsider chasing waves in the winter chill. That means your kids (and teens) will probably be seeking a new athletic activity, ideally something they can do in a heated indoor space.
Some sports require closer contact than others, but the list where mouth guards are recommended is longer than you’d think. If your (not so) little one will participate in ball sports like netball, football, netball, or basketball, their lips, gums, and teeth need protecting. You also need a mouth guard for ‘bat sports’ like softball, lacrosse, hockey, squash, cricket, or baseball. These are not strictly indoor sports, but they’re all winter alternatives to swimming.
Then there are unconventional play sports like skateboarding, rollerblading, bike riding, or trampoling. In all these activities, a mouth guard could not only prevent a broken tooth, lacerated gums, or concussions, but they could also give you peace of mind. Not all mouth guards are equal though, so grabbing a last-minute piece from the chemist won’t cut it.
Customised dental care for sporty kids
The best type of mouth guard is one that’s a perfect fit. It prevents chafing, which causes discomfort and bruising that might encourage your child to take it out altogether. An ill-fitting mouth guard can also change the way they talk, giving them a lisp that makes then bully fodder. So if your child refuses to wear a mouth guard, it might just be the wrong one. Bring then to a dental clinic and they may be more willing to keep it in.
Mouth guards purchased at pharmacies may seem more convenient. You can grab it over the counter, it costs a lot less, and it comes in standardised sizes. However, the shape and size of your child’s jaw isn’t just a matter of their height and age. They may have a smaller face or a wider jaw, thanks to their delightful mix of genetic markers.
The structure of their cheeks and chin can also be different, depending on their internal make-up and any prior dental treatments they might have had. Missing or extracted teeth change a child’s dental formula, and previous sports injuries may also have altered the way their teeth sit in their mouth.
Spotting secret tooth conditions
Plus, while it’s easy to observe the changes in your child’s height or weight, the changes in their teeth are harder to spot. Kids are naturally self-conscious, especially in their teens, so they’re unlikely to show you a part of their bodies that they’re nervous about. Teeth fall into this category, because it makes an easy target for teasing. Also, unfortunately, kids start hiding their teeth about the time they start skipping that bedtime brush.
For this reason, your dentist is best placed to evaluate your kids’ teeth and see if there are any issues. In this context, your child may claim their mouth guard is ‘fine’ but it will take a dental inspection to see if they need to fit a new one. It’s generally advised to visit your dentist twice a year for general check-ups, so since we’ve hit the mid-year mark, it’s a good time to have a once-0ver and replace the mouth guard.
The primary aim of the visit is to prepare your child for the seasonal sport, but it’s a good opportunity to spot any other dental problems that may have come up. Here’s an unseen benefit of having a regular dentist. They’ll be familiar with your child’s teeth, so replacing the mouth guard will be a faster, more efficient process.
Better health overall
Even more importantly, your child will have developed a relationship of trust with their dentist, so they may confess things to the dentist that they won’t admit to you. Maybe your teenager’s sudden sullenness is hormonal, but maybe it arises from some mean kid’s comment on their crooked grin. And maybe your dentist can fix it with series of low-fuss treatments, restoring your child’s long lost smile.
In this way, your dental visit will have improved your child’s physical, psychological, and dental health while protecting them from potentially permanent damage in their chosen sport. Sounds like a win-win, yes? Prepare for at last two visits though, one for measuring and one for fitting and collection. A third visit may be needed in case of any adjustments – kids literally grow overnight and that includes their jaws and teeth.