Thoughtful Parenting: When to protect your child’s teeth with a mouthguard

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— Have you ever thought about protecting your teeth or your child’s teeth with a mouthguard? Everyone should wear a mouthguard when doing any activity that could harm their teeth. Mouthguards are important for protecting teeth and cushioning hits that could break teeth, injure the lips, tongue and jaw.

You don’t have to play sports to benefit from a properly fitting mouthguard. Mouthguards need to be used in noncontact sports, as well, such as gymnastics. Contact sports — such as football, boxing, ice hockey, basketball, soccer, wrestling and many others — require wearing a mouthguard.

Often times, our teeth are taken for granted. What if you lost one of your front teeth? More than likely, one would feel insecure when it comes to smiling, laughing and enjoying everyday life. Along with creating confidence issues, loss of teeth makes eating and chewing rather difficult. Not only can front teeth be broken, but the back teeth also can also be affected.

There are different kinds of mouthguards that you could try such as the boil and bite ones found over the counter or a custom-made mouthguard provided by your dentist. The cost and effectiveness of both of these options vary greatly. Although the boil and bite mouthguard may be cheaper, comfort can be compromised. The most effective mouthguard is the one that is tear resistant, which is more comfortable to wear. The mouthguard should fit properly and be easy to clean. Almost all mouthguards only cover the upper teeth, but your dentist can provide a mouthguard for upper and lower teeth. Make sure to consult your dentist about all options to determine the best choice for you.

Mouthguards need to be cared for properly. Before and after each use, the mouthguard needs to be rinsed with water as well as cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste. If you get a mouthguard from your dentist, a case will be provided in which to store your mouthguard. The container provides air circulation so that it dries properly. The mouthguard may distort if exposed to hot water, a hot surface or sunlight. Like any other mouth appliance, it will wear out. If the mouth guard gets holes or tears, it needs to be replaced. Regular checkups should be scheduled with your dentist, and make sure to take your mouthguard to all appointments.

Janet Pearcy is the executive director of the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, which is a partner of the First Impressions of Routt County early childhood council.

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