When it comes to football or hockey, mouth guards are standard equipment. But when it comes to sports like tennis, baseball and basketball, mouth guard use is not as common.
A local pediatric dentist says he wishes they were for those activities, and many more.
Dentist Stu Bonnin and Orthodontist Clay Sims have seen their share of damage when young athletes have not worn mouth guards.
Dr. Bonnin recalled one incident that still stands out to him, “They were going up for a lay-up, and as they are trying to go for the ball in, they catch their two teeth on the net.”
Dr. Sims recounted a recent accident, “I’ve seen a kid get his tooth knocked out riding an A.T.V.”
That reminded Bonnin of another odd tooth accident, “A skateboarder was zipping down the street, going around the curb and catching their front teeth on the rear-view mirror of a parked car.”
Bonnin continued, “The number one cause of mouth injuries is bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades.”
Bonnin said one sport that may seem a bit unexpected for tooth injuries is gymnastics.
“Hitting the balance beam, or just falling on the floor.” He said when his children were young, he required them to wear a mouth guard for every sport except swimming.
Pensacola orthodontist Clay Sims sees many young athletes in his practice. “And I talk to them every time they come in and most of them do (wear mouth guards.”)
Sims said while braces do make it less likely that an injured tooth will fall out, braces don’t protect against chipped teeth. He also said that patients with braces should wear protection on their top and bottom teeth to reduce lip and soft tissue injuries.
There are three different kinds of mouth guards to choose between.
“Stock mouth guards are usually about ten dollars, the boil and bite type are twenty, thirty or forty dollars,” Sims detailed.
He said a dentist or orthodontist can make custom ones, but those can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Sim said stock mouth guards are the least expensive option, and the least comfortable. He explained they also often prohibit efficient breathing during sports. Sims recommends the “boil and bite” models. He said they can be remolded easily after orthodontic adjustments.
If your young athlete is resistant to wearing a mouth guard, Sim offered this advice; sell it to them as a “sports accessory.”
“They come in all different colors, customize to a favorite college football team or basketball team.”