How to Protect your Child from Dental Sports Injuries

Participating in sport is a great part of most people’s day-to-day life and has a host of benefits for general health. Getting your children involved in sport is always good, teaching them a range of life skills in the process. Some sports however do carry varying risk of injury, and it is participation in these that we need to make sure children are prepared for.

Generally, in order to prevent dental injury, you should be on the lookout for the following:

  • High risk contact sports
  • Sports with potential for impact
  • Appropriate protection e.g. head gear, mouth guards

Specific sport guidance

Contact sports are typically dialled back for children, helping to protect them from injury at a younger age. Some sports will always carry a greater risk of dental injury however and it is participation in these that should warrant the use of protective gear.

Boxing and other combat sports are typically thought of as higher risk sports due to the type of contact involved. Because of this there are measures enforced to protect children as they get involved. Mouth guards and head gear are always worn when contact is anticipated, such as during sparring sessions, but a mouth guard should probably be worn at all times during training.

Rugby and hockey are other sports that require mouth guards and even head gear or face protection at times. Children playing these sports will usually play adapted versions to help protect from injury, but if taking part in full training then the correct level of protection ought to be worn.

The physical, contact-heavy nature of rugby greatly increases the chance of damage to the jaw, and therefore teeth. Hockey is sometimes overlooked, but it certainly entails a high injury risk. Mouth guards should be worn at all times. Face protection should be equipped for penalties and, if playing keeper, then full body protection and a face cage is required.

Protective gear

In general, there are three types of protective wear for face/dental protection. These are:

  • Mouth guards
  • Head guards
  • Face cages

Mouth guards are arguably the most common form of protection for teeth when playing a sport. By correctly moulding to a participant’s jaw they ensure a good fit and provide an impact resistant layer. Note: the quality of the mouth guard can make a big difference – the fit must be checked over time as the child grows. Proper mould-to-fit mouth guards ensure that the guard fits perfectly around the child’s teeth and are the only option that should be considered for proper protection.

Head guards are typically used in more contact-intensive sports such as judo and boxing. These are great for absorbing impacts to the head and jaw, helping to lessen the blow to teeth. Face-cages are a step further still and are only regularly used in sports with a ball/object that can potentially damage the face, such as baseball or hockey.

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