With school right around the corner, it’s time for parents to start thinking about the safety of their budding athlete.
If a child plays contact sports or any sport involving a ball or a puck, add a mouthguard to the shopping list. While the protective mouthpieces offer twice the protection against significant facial injuries or broken teeth, there is one myth doctors want to debunk.
“They don’t change any of the movement of the brain that actually leads to the concussion, so they’re not helpful in that respect,” said Dr. Vijay Jotwani, who specializes in sports medicine at Houston Methodist.
There are three types of mouthguards—the cheapest is a stock model that comes in small, medium or large.
“Those are tough to get a great fit with, so not always our best recommendation,” Jotwani said.
There’s also a do-it-yourself boil and bite mouthguard found in sporting goods stores.
“You put it in some hot water, and then you’re able to mold it to your teeth,” the doctor explained. “You can get a pretty good fit with that, and that’s probably a great choice for most athletes.”
And lastly, parents can buy a custom guard at a dentist’s office.
“The custom one’s going to cost you the most money and it’s probably a good idea if you have some tooth problems, or probably for an adolescent who has braces,” said Jotwani.
It’s also not a bad idea to get a new mouthguard at the start of each season. If the mouthpiece becomes frayed or worn down, it’s time to toss it out.