When Should Your Child Wear an Athletic Mouthguard?


Wearing an athletic mouthguard is an excellent way for your child to protect their teeth and gums during sports and prevent injuries such as cut gums, chipped teeth, and even broken or knocked-out permanent teeth.

These mouthguards can either be custom-made by your dentist or bought at the store, but custom mouthguards offer superior protection, especially if your child wears orthodontic appliances such as braces. But when should your child wear an athletic mouthguard to protect their smile?

During Any Type of Contact Sport

If your child plays any type of contact sport, they ideally should be wearing a mouthguard—and will likely be required to—whether or not they have orthodontia [1]. These could be sports where physical contact happens between players, which includes many sports such as:


  • Field or ice hockey
  •  Football
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Rugby
  • Baseball
  •  Volleyball
  • Wrestling
  • Martial arts

However, even sports where physical contact between people isn’t required—such as gymnastics or horseback riding—wearing a mouthguard can be a smart idea. Many popular sports put your child at risk for injuries to the face or jaw. Accidents happen, especially when children are participating in sports. Fortunately, athletic mouthguards can reduce the risk of injury and protect your child’s smile, reducing the need for emergency dental care and even saving their teeth [2]!

If Your Child Has Metal Braces

Many children and teenagers wear metal braces to help straighten their teeth as they develop. If your child has permanently-fixed metal braces, it’s a good idea to consider a mouthguard, even if their sport doesn’t necessarily require it.

Metal braces have sharp components that can cut your child’s gum if an impact to the face happens. Wearing braces while playing a sport increases the chances that your child would sustain an injury, so considering a mouthguard is a good idea [3].

You may not be able to opt for a store-bought mouthguard and instead need a custom orthodontic mouthguard to fully protect your child’s teeth and gums during their sport when they have braces.

On the other hand, don’t allow your child to wear their orthodontic retainer or other removable devices (such as Invisalign clear aligners) during contact sports. These removable devices could present a choking risk or injury should an accident happen, even with a mouthguard. For children that have fixed orthodontic devices, a custom mouthguard should always be worn during sports!

The Consequences of Skipping a Mouthguard

Athletic mouthguards are essential to preventing injuries and may even help reduce the risk of concussions, so never skip a mouthguard when it’s recommended, and always take extra measures to protect your child’s smile if they have orthodontia [4].

A mouthguard goes a long way to preventing injuries with your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw to protect their developing smile and avoid permanent damage, so always consider an athletic mouthguard for your child during sports.

If you have questions about whether or not your child’s sports team requires mouthguards, don’t hesitate to ask. And don’t forget that your dentist is always an excellent resource for your child’s dental needs, including athletic mouthguards!

1. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science and Research/Files/patient_40.ashx
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31148073/
3. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouthguards
4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268805698_Mouthguard_in_Sports_A_Revi

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