Does My Child Need a Mouthguard?

If your child participates in sports or other physical activities, a mouthguard is a good idea to protect against mouth-related injuries. Some sports, like hockey and football, may require your child to wear a mouthguard, but these devices can be a worthwhile investment for most sports. Whenever there’s a chance of coming into contact with another player or a hard surface, a mouthguard can reduce the risk of serious oral injury.

Choosing a Mouthguard

There are three types of mouthguards, with varying degrees of comfort and fit. It’s always a good idea to check with your child’s orthodontist and dentist to make sure you’re choosing the right one for your child’s needs.

  • Custom-fitted: as the name suggests, these are custom mouthguards the dentist makes for your child. They’re more expensive than other options, but since they’re made specifically for your child, they’ll typically offer the best fit.
  • Boil and bite: you can buy these mouthguards at most sporting good stores. After softening the mouthguard in boiling water, you’ll place it into your child’s mouth to mold it to their teeth. Although these don’t fit as perfectly as custom-fitted options, they’re more affordable and still offer customized protection.
  • Stock: these are the most common and inexpensive mouthguards. Since they are premade, they can’t be altered to fit your child’s mouth. To keep it in place, your child may need to bite down, which can become uncomfortable.

Does My Child’s Mouthguard Fit Right?

After you choose a nightguard for your child, make sure it fits properly. Here are five signs your child’s mouthguard doesn’t fit:

  1. They gag when it’s in their mouth This is a clear sign the mouthguard is too big.
  2. They have to bite or clench. f your child has to bite down on the mouthguard, it’s not offering much protection.
  3. Their gums aren’t protected. Even if their teeth are covered, it doesn’t mean the roots of their teeth are protected. A good mouthguard should fit over part of your child’s gums.
  4. They can’t speak clearly. Although a slight lisp is normal while they’re adjusting to the mouthguard, if your child is having a difficult time speaking clearly, it’s a sign that their mouthguard doesn’t fit.
  5. They can’t breathe easily. An oral device should never make it hard for your child to breathe. If it does, remove it immediately.

Caring for a Mouthguard

Once you find the perfect fit, care for your child’s mouthguard by following these tips:

  • Rinse the mouthguard in warm water before and after each use.
  • After use, give the mouthguard a gentle brushing with their toothbrush, but skip the toothpaste – it’s abrasiveness may scratch the device and cause it to wear out more quickly.
  • Store the mouthguard in a case in a non-humid environment. We recommend storing it your child’s bedroom or on their nightstand instead of in the bathroom, as humidity can warp the material.

Choosing and maintaining a mouthguard can make a big difference in your child’s oral health. They’ll be less likely to fracture teeth, lose a tooth, or injure their gums. If you have questions about choosing a mouthguard for your child, contact us to find a children’s dentist near you.

Posted In: Pediatric Dental Care