Mouth Guards and Night Guards
Mouth guards are primarily used to protect the teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) advocates for the use of a dental mouth guard during any sports activity. Mouth guards, also known as sports guards or athletic mouth protectors, are crucial pieces of equipment for any child participating in sports. Though there are literally thousands of mouth guard brands, most brands fall into three major categories: stock mouth guards, boil and bite mouth guards, and customized mouth guards.
Stock mouth guards: Pediatric dentists favor this type of mouth guard the least because it provides minimal protection, obstructs proper breathing and speaking, and tend to be uncomfortable. These mouth guards are inexpensive, easy to fit, and available at any sporting goods store. The fit is universal (one-size-fits-all), meaning that the mouth guard doesn’t adjust.
Boil and bite mouth guards: These mouth guards are usually made from thermoplastic and must be immersed in hot water to make it pliable, and then pressed on the child’s teeth to create a custom mold. Boil and bite mouth guards are slightly more expensive than stock mouth guards, but tend to offer more protection, feel more comfortable in the mouth, and allow for easy speech production and breathing.
Customized mouth guards: These mouth guards are custom-made by the dentist and offer the greatest degree of protection. First, the dentist makes an impression of the child’s teeth using special material, and then the mouth guard is constructed over the mold. Customized mouth guards are more expensive and take longer to fit, but are more comfortable and fully approved by dentists.
First and foremost, consult your dentist. Recommended use for children varies greatly. Night guards are used to prevent tooth damage in children who grind (brux) their teeth at night. As of today, dentists, academics and researchers alike still can not fully agree on the reason children grind their teeth. It is generally agreed upon, however, that stress and anxiety may be contributing factors. Another common possibility being explored has to deal with the growth phases of a child’s teeth and jaw. During the nascent stages of development, a child’s top and bottom set of teeth do not fit together comfortably. The natural response that some children have is to grind their teeth to provide a respite from the discomfort that they may be experiencing. Some children tend to outgrow the habit of teeth grinding by the age of 12. Other children may develop an attachment to the habit and carry it well into adulthood. You should know that there is no known cure for teeth grinding. Your first step would be to schedule an appointment with your dentist and discuss with him/her your concerns. In the end, your dentist may suggest your child wear a custom night guard. Call us today at (215) 278-8053!