We lose teeth to disease (decay, infection) and to trauma.  We never want to lose one, except when we’re supposed to, and we want to lose those baby teeth on their schedule. Baby teeth are placeholders, keeping the neighbors in line and reserving spaces for the permanent teeth that come after them. Losing one prematurely invites misalignment and malocclusion, and the chain reaction of dental and developmental problems that can follow.  

A kid’s tooth getting knocked out is a bad thing. So is breaking them, chipping them, and cracking them, since all those injuries increase the risk of losing the tooth entirely.

Kids and teens are in that exciting part of life when Stuff Happens, so we ought to become familiar with mouth guards. A simple, effective defensive measure that’s hardly burdensome at all. In fact, in a kid’s eye, they’re actually pretty cool.  

Stock, off-the-shelf mouth guards are the cheapest and do the job as far as that goes, but since they may not fit very well, they can be uncomfortable. If the fit’s on the too-big side, they’ll also look funny, make you talk funny, and can even make breathing more difficult. Not cool! If one happens to fit well, it’ll do.  

The classic boil’n’bite guards are a nice step up from stock. These are made so that the customer can heat them by boiling, then bite into them to leave impressions of his or her own teeth. If this job is done well, the resulting fit can be quite good.

The flagship mouth guard is custom-made by pros. Your dentist takes impressions in the office, and either fabricates the guard himself or sends the impressions to a dental lab which returns a perfect custom fit.  You pay for what you get, of course. With fees and materials, the price tag’s likely to fall in the $200-$500 range.

Mouth guards also are used to protect the teeth of kids who are night grinders. Grinding of teeth wears down enamel, increasing the risk of decay and cavities. A mouth guard intended for a kid’s overnight use should be vetted by the pediatric dentist at the very least, if not professionally custom made.  

Finally, mouth guards serve double duty. They protect a kid’s teeth, but also protect the kid from those teeth! A blow to the mouth too mild to damage or knock out a tooth can still easily drive teeth into the lips or the inside lining of the mouth, with a torrent of blood likely to follow. Teeth with braces on are especially menacing in this way.  

Junior Smiles is a Boca Raton Pediatric dental clinic who will care for your children’s needs and provide comfort while doing so.

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