Participating in sports provides numerous benefits for children, but sports can also be a risk to dental health for kids. Not only do team sports keep kids physically fit, but they teach leadership skills, help build self-esteem, and encourage goal-setting and time management. Unfortunately, kids who play sports are also at an increased risk of tooth damage and dental injuries. As a parent of an athletic child, there are a few things you should be doing to protect your child’s teeth and mouth.
Provide a Mouth Guard
Children playing sports such as soccer, hockey, and football may suffer chipped or lost teeth or cut lips, if they are hit in the mouth by a ball, bat, or other player. Injuries can also happen when a child slips and hits their face on the ground. Children who are wearing mouth guards are less apt to become injured when such accidents occur.
Mouth guard are flexible pieces of rubbery plastic that fit over the upper teeth. Your child is meant to bite down on the mouth guard when wearing it, which helps it to protect the lower teeth as well. You can purchase sports mouth guards at many sporting goods stores and pharmacies. Typically, you will need to place the mouth guard in hot water to soften it, and then have your child bite into it to create a customized fit.
Check with your child’s coach to make sure they are wearing their mouth guard during all practices and games. Also, make sure you replace your child’s mouth guard each season. This promotes ongoing dental health for kids as their mouths continue to grow.
Encourage Use of a Helmet
Faceguards and helmets also help protect the jaw and teeth from blows when kids are playing sports like football, baseball, and hockey. Helmets are also a smart choice in many individual sports, such as cycling, horseback riding, and ice skating. Make sure that your child knows the importance of always wearing their helmet, and seek out coaches who enforce this rule. Don’t be afraid to ask other parents to remind your child to put their helmet on if they happen to see them without it during practice or a game.
Minimize the Use of Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are heavily marketed to athletes as a way of replacing the fluids lost during exercise. Unfortunately, they tend to be really high in sugar, which puts the teeth at risk for decay and cavities. In all but the most vigorous workouts, your child should be fine re-hydrating with water alone. When they do occasionally drink sports drinks, make sure they rinse their mouth out with a sip of water afterwards.
Talk To Your Dentist About Dental Health for Kids
Inform your child’s dentist that they play sports, and ask for additional tips and advice for managing dental health for kids who are athletes. Your dentist may recommend a custom mouth guard and can keep a close eye out for cavities and other issues during regular appointments.