Welcome to this episode of “Hockey Night in Canada!” Just kidding of course but we are talking about all things hockey related in this blog. That’s because with access to a vaccine and case counts slowing down, many sports leagues are slowly opening up again for both children and adults and there isn’t a sport much more “Canadian” than hockey! It’s hockey season in Canada and that means it’s also mouth guard season!
Parents of hockey players from 2 – 22 know that one of the most important pieces of gear your child can have is a mouth guard. Probably most prevalent in their use for hockey, mouth guards are also increasingly being used in many other sports including basketball and soccer because let’s face it, a dental injury is a possibility in almost any contact sport. We’ve talked about mouth guards before, several years ago in fact, but at this time of year it always seems like a good reminder to families to consider having your child properly fitted for a mouth guard to protect their teeth, mouth and gums. This is particularly true if you’re also currently investing heavily in orthodontics!
Mouth guards come in three types:
- Purchased over the counter, typically at sports stores, you’ll be “guesstimating” an appropriate size for your child or teen and may not achieve a good fit. This can be problematic, increasing the potential for injury not just from contact but also from the ill-fitting mouth guard.
“Boil and Bite.”
- These too are over the counter purchases that aim to provide an element of a better fit by boiling the thermoplastic material for a minute or two and then placing it in the mouth and biting down to help “form” the guard to your own mouth shape.
- Problems can arise if the plastic is too hot, resulting in burns to the mouth or if you have a tendency to gag as it takes time to make the impression that provides a better fit.
Dental mouth guards.
- These are mouth guards customized to your exact teeth, mouth and gums and are made by your dentist after they have taken an impression of your teeth and a custom mouth guard is then molded over the impression to ensure an exact fit. Generally the material is also stronger and more reliable than over the counter options and is good for those currently wearing braces.
No matter what type of mouth guard you opt for, general care and maintenance is also important. They should be cleaned regularly in cool, soapy water after use. Prior to use you should rinse thoroughly with cold water or a mouthwash and/or brush gently using a toothbrush. They should be stored in a container that allows for some air circulation for their protection and that too should be kept cleaned. You should also inspect it occasionally for damages to be sure you are maintaining optimal protection.
Whether it’s hockey (it is that time of year) or any other contact sport where your teeth are at risk, the Brinkley Dental team can help to ensure you are protected with a custom made mouth guard. Call or visit our offices to talk about what’s right for you this hockey season and in the meantime, as always: “Don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and brush that smile!”