The most effective way to protect your child’s teeth and jaws while playing contact sports is a customized sports guard made by a dental technician or a dental office as recommended by Health Canada.
Who should wear a mouth guard?
Mouth guards are designed to be used by both adults and children during any sports activities where contact with other players or objects is possible.
What are the different types?
There are three types of sports guards available in Canada:
- Stock Sports Guards: these are available over the counter at various drug stores. They are not customized and there are various sizes to fit your needs. They offer the least protection as there are spaces between and you have to bite down to hold them in place.
- Boil-and-Bite Sports Guards: these are also available over the counter at various drug stores. You essentially heat them to customize them but they have various areas that are thinner and some that are thicker. They offer better protection, are slightly more expensive and hold in place without the need to bite down.
- Custom-made Sports Guards: these have to be made at a dental office and involve taking scans or impressions of the mouth. They fit the individuals mouth perfectly and focus on the most vulnerable areas. They can also be made to allow certain teeth to move specially in children that are still developing and can be made to be worn over braces and brackets. They are the most expensive but offer the best protection and are the ones that Health Canada recommends.
Should I get both upper and lower or just one?
The answer to this depends on the type of sport being played and the risks. We always recommend both upper and lower to offer the best protection. If your child is wearing braces, we recommend both upper and lower as well.
What if my child is still developing? How often should I change them?
Your child’s teeth will continue to develop well into their early 20s although at a slower pace. Custom made sports guards are designed with the growth in mind and will allow certain teeth that are actively moving and developing or erupting to move while they grip other teeth harder to provide better protection.
Typically over the counter night guards will need to be changed every 3-6 months and customized night guards every 12-24 months depending on the speed of development and the age of your child.
For adults, they only need to be changed when major dental restorations and work has been performed or when the sports guard is showing moderate signs of damage and wear and tear.
I hate goop and impressions, that is why I get over the counter sports guards!
Our office utilizes an optical 3D scanner to map your mouth and we do not use goop or impression materials to make a custom sports guard. We then print the models and make your customized sports guard.
The 3D scanner is faster, easier and more accurate. You can find more information about this technology and how we use it here.