Most adults and kids today understand the importance of wearing a mouthguard when playing contact sports, especially while wearing braces. Blows to the mouth are painful enough without brackets and wires cutting into your lips and tongue making it worse. Teeth are actually less prone to injury when wired together as a single unit during orthodontic treatment. A mouth guard protects the braces and serves as added protection, further reducing the possibility of tooth and jaw injury.
It is not uncommon for athletes to remove their mouthguard when playing sports and set it down, hold it in their dirty hands, or toss it into the case or Gym bag when the game is over. Do you or your kids clean your mouthguard before popping it back into the mouth the next you play? Who knows what germs are breeding on the mouthguard when stored away that can cause illness and oral health issues?
“These concerns are similar to using an infected toothbrush repeatedly or using silverware that has not been cleaned properly,” said Dr. Bruce Burton, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. “Although a mouthguard is recommended to prevent permanent damage to the mouth and teeth, we know it also has the potential to be a reservoir for bacteria that can cause gum infections or the bacteria that help promote tooth decay.”
Here are some tips for kids and adults wearing a mouthguard:
- Obviously…Don’t share a device with anyone else. This is worth mentioning to kids
- Brush your teeth before wearing a mouthguard. This requires keeping a toothbrush and disinfecting toothpaste in your gym bag.
- Clean and dry the device before storing it. Kids don’t usually pay attention to details. Parents may need to monitor regularly and discuss the importance of proper care until it becomes a habit.
- Spray disinfectants for mouthguards are available that kills germs before and after use and easily store in an athletic bag
- If a mouthguard is damaged, have a backup ready to go as a replacement.