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Pediatrics - Mouthguards for Sports 

Mouthguards are protective coverings worn over the teeth.  They provide protection to a child’s mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums during contact or impact sports.  There are several types of mouthguards.  Your dentist can help you choose the most appropriate one for your child.

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Your child’s mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums may be injured during contact sports, such as football, hockey, and boxing, or impact sports, such as gymnastics or diving.  Impacts can cause your child to tear mouth tissues, chip teeth, or lose teeth. 

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Your dentist can diagnose sports-related dental injuries.  Your dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth tissues.  X-rays may be used to show the insides of your child’s teeth, gums, and bones.  Ideally, you should talk to your dentist about mouthguards before your child plays a sport to prevent injuries.

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Your dentist can help you select the most appropriate mouthguard for your child.  Mouthguards can be worn on the upper teeth, lower teeth, or both.  Mouthguards vary in price, style, and comfort.  Certain types of mouthguards may be more appropriate for certain types of sports.  There are three basic types of mouthguards:  pre-molded mouthguards, hot water formed mouthguards, and custom-made mouthguards. 
Pre-molded mouthguards can be found in sporting goods stores.  They are the least expensive type of mouthguard.  Because they are pre-molded, it may be difficult to achieve a good fit.  Pre-molded mouthguards do not fit against the teeth.  They may be difficult to breathe and talk with.
Hot water formed mouthguards can be found in sporting good stores as well.  This type of mouthguard is pre-shaped.  You place the shape in hot water to soften the material.  When the softened material is placed in your child’s mouth, it conforms to fit against your child’s teeth. 
Your dentist can make a custom-made mouthguard.  Custom-made mouthguards are professionally fitted to your child’s mouth and teeth.  They offer the best protection and most comfortable wear.  They should not inhibit your child’s ability to breathe and speak.
Professionally made mouthguards can last a long time with proper care.  Your child should clean his or her mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste or mouth rinse.  Your child should run his or her mouthguard under cool water before and after he or she uses it.  The mouthguard should be kept away from hot temperatures that can disfigure it.  A mouthguard needs to be replaced if it tears, breaks, or wears out.  A child’s mouthguard should be checked at regular dental visits.  Your child may need a new mouthguard as he or she grows.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit