As parents, we know that the tell-tale signs of summer's end are the lists upon lists of things to gather before heading back to school. Among all of the notebooks, glue sticks, pencils, and crayons, it can be easy to overlook a potentially critical item on your child's back to school list—headgear. No, not headgear in the "embarrassing middle school flashbacks" sense; think headgear in the sense of little league games and Saturday swim meets.
Whether running, jumping, diving, tumbling, or tackling, sports pose an increased to children's teeth. One of the most recommended, yet often overlooked ways to protect children's teeth during sports is with the use of a properly-fitting helmet. Although generally limited to sports with high-impact potential, helmets help offer significant coverage to the neck, face, and mouth. For many sports, helmets can be modified to include additional protection as needed (such as face guards, chin straps, etc.). However, even the best helmets do not offer comprehensive coverage alone.
Another simple, yet effective way to protect your little one's teeth is with the use of a mouth guard. A mouth guard (typically made from a child-friendly plastic) is a discrete dental appliance which is worn over the teeth and provides protection for not just teeth, but lips, cheeks, and gums as well. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), "[m]outhguards provide a resilient, protective surface to distribute and dissipate forces on impact, thereby minimizing the severity of traumatic injury to the hard or soft tissues." When packing for your child's sporting event, mouth guards are as essential as any other protective gear. While custom-fit mouth guards are available for purchase, these can be costly up front. If a custom-fit guard is not in your family's budget immediately, consider purchasing a generic mouth guard in the interim. Generic guards are relatively cheap and readily accessible over the counter at most sporting goods stores.
Unfortunately, we know that there is no guaranteed way to prevent dental emergencies. Accidents happen! But as parents, it's important to both understand the precautionary measures we can offer our little ones. For more specific information on how to best protect your little one this school year, contact our specialists today!