Kids: How to Safeguard My Smile
It is an inevitable situation. Your child trips and falls on the playground at school and hits her mouth. A blow to the mouth can not only crack teeth, but can also cause bruising and cuts to the gums as well. You want to protect your child’s smile, but is seems impossible with all the scrapes they find themselves in, whether simply playing or participating in sports. You only get one set of teeth once your permanent ones comes in though so you don’t want anything to happen to them. Luckily there is a way to safeguard your child’s smile and prevent trauma to baby and adult teeth.
Benefits of Mouthguards
The easiest way to safeguard my smile is to wear a mouthguard. Not only can they protect the mouth during falls and other types of accidents, they can also protect dental hardware and braces during athletic events. Most mouthguards are deliberately created to fit easily over braces or other orthodontic equipment. They are especially important for your child to wear during sporting events where a hit to the mouth is very likely.
Some of the type of dental traumas a mouthguard can protect your child’s smile from include:
A Knocked out tooth.
If it is a baby tooth, call your dentist and make an appointment for an evaluation. Typically dentists don’t recommend you trying to put the baby tooth back in. If it is an adult tooth however, the tooth needs to be rinsed in cold water to clean it off then if possible put back in the mouth. That might not always be possible. If it is not, then keep in stored in a cup of milk or a solution recommended by the dentist until you can get into the office.
A tooth fracture.
If a tooth is broken, then try to find the piece that was broken off and bring it to the dentist as soon as possible. Small chips are not as big of an emergency and can be taken care of within a few days of the accident or injury. Don’t wait too long though.
Tooth pushed into the gums.
Sometimes the force of a hit will cause a tooth to be pushed further into the gums. This is called a tooth intrusion. This is very important to get taken care of right away because a baby tooth pushed back into the gums can affect the adult tooth waiting to erupt.
After an injury, it is real important to examine your child’s mouth carefully. Often times there is a lot of blood which makes it hard to see the source of the injury right away. Clean it up as best as you can and determine as quickly as possible what route of action you need to take.
There are typically three different types of mouthguards. You can get one custom-fitted to your child’s mouth by the dentist which is more expensive, but at least you know it fits perfectly. The other options are to get a boil and bite version that you can buy at a sporting goods or drug store. You will need to boil them in hot water and then have your child bite down so it will shape itself to fit her mouth. The least expensive are the type that are pre-molded. While cheaper, these might not fit right and so does not offer the best protection.
Getting your child to wear it
So you know the important of getting your child a mouthguard, but now how do you get her to wear it? Getting your child to wear a mouthguard can sometime be difficult especially in the beginning when they are getting used to how it feels in their mouth. What helps is that most mouthguards can be made in the colors of your child’s team and sometimes even their logo can be put on it. Some companies even sell flavored mouthguards. Common flavors include bubblegum and strawberry.
Taking care of a mouthguard is pretty easy. It just needs to be rinsed with soap and warm water after each use. Worried about it getting lost when your child takes it out at a game or practice? Look for the ones that come with a strap that allows it to be attached to a helmet or go for one that comes with a carrying case that can easily be stored in a gym bag.
A mouthguard is a great protective tool, but if you suspect that there was still damage done to the teeth, then take your child to the dentist as soon as possible. The quicker you address the issue, the less long-term issues your child will experience. A missing or broken tooth not only affects the aesthetics of your child’s smile, but it affects overall dental hygiene as well. Bacteria can more easily grow in the empty spaces and their mouth will start to shift. A tooth intrusion can also lead to the gums becoming infected.
Make sure your child wears a mouthguard during sporting events and other activities where they might be injured and you will have the peace of mind knowing you did everything you could to protect their smile.
Other ways to safeguard my smile is to wear a nightguard to protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep and having a sealant put on the teeth for extra protection. Orthodontic treatment like braces and retainers can also help with alignment issues which can lead to jaw pain, trouble speaking and eating as well as tooth decay because crooked or missing teeth are big bacteria attractors. Also watch your diet. Eating too many sugary drinks and foods can make you more susceptible to cavities even if you brush really well every day. And finally, if you are having any pain or concerned about your dental health in any way, don’t wait to seek treatment. The longer you wait, the more time you are giving for the problem to grow. What started out as a treatable issue might grow into a major dental crisis.