Mouthguard Maintenance for Little Athletes

Let’s be real here, parents. Kids can be really hard on their teeth.

If the dentist knows your child is in sports (particularly contact sports) there is a high chance they have recommended a mouth guard for your child to use during practices and games.

We know, we know – mouth guards can be pricey, especially if it is one that is custom-molded. But they can be well worth the investment when you consider how much future damage the device could be preventing. Its purpose is to minimize and force that could be exerted on to the teeth, jaw, or gums, either by clenching or by an outside source. Accidents happen, especially in combat sports! Getting hit in the face by a ball or being struck by another athlete by mistake is sometimes just a part of the experience. 

Taking steps to ensure your child’s mouth is safe is just as important as knee pads or a helmet. But just the use of a mouthguard is not enough – it is making sure your child is properly maintaining it – not just so it can be used long-term, but also so that it doesn’t become a breeding grounds for bacteria.

When a mouth guard becomes worn, the edges can begin to deteriorate. The rigidity and roughness can cause small abrasions in the gums and lead to infections. The reason why this is different than nicking yourself with a toothbrush is that yeasts and molds could potentially be living on the device depending on how frequently it is cleaned and where it is stored.

The General Journal Dentistry ran some tests on young sport’s players mouth guards. On one belonging to a junior high football player, the same bacterium found in an infected leg wound was discovered. Similarly, a hockey player’s guard got so contaminated with mold (five different kinds), that his exercise-induced asthma was triggered and worsened to where his inhaler was not capable of keeping his symptoms at bay while competing.

Here are some tips to help your child ensure that he or she gets the most out of a clean, and safe mouthguard:

1. Rinse before and after use with warm water or mouthwash

2. Brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste

3. From time to time (depending on how frequent the use) wash with soap and water

4. Make sure the container the mouthguard is stored in is sanitary and has some holes for air circulation. If the moisture inside is air-tight it can cause mold to grow.

5. To ensure the mouthguard does not get warped and keeps its shape, do NOT boil it in hot water to clean it or leave it out in the hot sun!

Talk to your child before investing in a mouthguard and share with them not only the benefits of wearing one, but the importance of taking care of it. Together, you can make sure your child is getting the most use out of it and protecting their beautiful smile!

Source: www. colgate.com