Mouthguards for kids are just as important as mouthguards for adults — but choosing a mouthguard for kids is a little bit of a different process than it is for adults. Today, we’ve diving deep into why kids should wear mouthguards when they play sports and how to choose the perfect sports mouthguards for your kid.
Why Mouthguards for Kids Are Important
Mouthguards are especially important for kids because their bodies are still changing, which means that their jaws are expanding and their teeth are moving around a lot. This makes their mouths more vulnerable to injury in case of collision since those tissues and bones are constantly in flux. Wearing a mouthguard protects their mouth, jaw, gum, and lips during this vulnerable time and will help to distribute the impact force more widely in the event of a collision.
Many kids also wear braces at some point during their childhood. While wearing braces may result in a more beautiful smile in the long term, it does temporarily increase the risk of injury. The hard metal brackets and wires can cut the soft tissues and even cause a more serious injury if your child is hit directly in the mouth.
Even if your child is not directly injured, a hit may move the position of the brackets or wires and cause the teeth to move out of alignment. This can cause a setback in their orthodontic treatment and potentially extend it for weeks or months. Wearing a mouthguard will help to stop this from happening and keep their orthodontic treatment on track.
Do know that wearing braces does make it a little bit trickier to fit the mouthguard because you have to be careful not to catch on any of the brackets. Your orthodontist or dentist may be able to assist you with fitting a mouthguard over braces. Certain types of mouthguards also work better for braces than others; see our guide to wearing a mouthguard with braces for more information.
Things to Know When Choosing a Mouthguard for Kids
Since kids are still growing, their mouthguard will need to be replaced and/or have the fit updated regularly in order to accommodate changes in their mouth. Their mouth size and teeth placement can change rapidly, especially if they are in the middle of a growth spurt, meaning that a mouthguard that fit a few weeks or months ago, may not fit today.
Comfort ties into fit and is also really important for children. If the mouthguard doesn’t fit well and feel good, they may refuse to wear it or take it out as soon as an adult is not looking. Finding a mouthguard that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time is essential. Look for a mouthguard that will stay in place of its own accord and that doesn’t need you to clench your jaw to hold it in place, which can cause muscle soreness and cramping.
Appearances can also matter a lot to some kids. It’s natural for kids to go through a phase where they are concerned with fitting in with their peers. Others may want to seek out specific styles or brands of mouthguards that their teammates are wearing, such as a gold teeth mouthguard. Paying attention to these factors can encourage your kid to wear their mouthguard more often.
Mouthguard Options for Kids
There are three main types of options when it comes to mouthguards: stock, boil and bite, and custom.
As the name suggests, stock mouthguards don’t offer any kind of customization whatsoever, and they are not molded to your teeth. Instead, they come in a few generic sizes and you choose the one closest to your mouth. Then you put in the mouthguard and hold it in place by biting down on it, which can cause the mouthguard to slide around or make your jaw cramp up for long periods of time.
This lack of customized fit often leads to discomfort as well as lessened protection, which is why we don’t recommend this style of mouthguard for kids (or adults) and why we don’t sell it at the GuardLab store.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards
The second option, boil and bite mouthguards, are an awesome choice for kids thanks to their affordable price point and semi-customized fit. Boil and bite mouthguards are first softened in hot water, and then you bite down on them to create an impression of your teeth.
Boil and bite mouthguards can be heated and remolded multiple times before they begin to lose their shape, meaning that you can adjust the fit multiple times for a single mouthguard. This is a great perk to have if your kids are growing and their teeth placement is constantly shifting around, and it is one of the major reasons why this is our top choice for kids.
There’s a third type of mouthguard, custom mouthguards, which are best for older teens who are done growing and have completed their orthodontic treatment as well — in other words, their teeth are no longer expected to move. This is because clear custom mouthguards are molded exactly to your mouth, thanks to either 3D scans taken at the dentist or a mold made using our at-home kit.
This exact fit is great for comfort but not very forgiving if your teeth move around or your jaw gets bigger. Therefore, we don’t recommend custom mouthguards for kids who are still growing or who are in the middle of their braces treatment. Otherwise, they would need to have a new scan taken or a mold made every few months and then order a whole new mouthguard, which is not very cost-effective and also presents a big hassle.
Choosing a Mouthguard for Your Child
When it comes to selecting right mouthguard for your child, we’ve already walked you through the differences between stock vs. boil and bite vs. custom in the above section, so you should already have made a decision. Next, you need to select the thickness and size of the mouthguard.
For sizing, please see the size chart on the individual page of each mouthguard. Most youths will need a small size, which is 2.2 inches wide and 1.5 inches long. However, some may need a medium, our most popular size, which is 2.5 inches wide and 1.7 inches high. (We do offer a large size, but that’s usually too big for most kids.) If your child is between sizes, size up to make sure their teeth are completely covered.
Next, it’s time to choose a mouthguard thickness, which varies by sport. At GuardLab, we offer three thicknesses: Level 1 LITE, Level 2 Standard and Level 3 Heavy. We recommend Level 1 LITE for basketball, BJJ, soccer and helmet sports; Level 2 Standard for rugby, lacrosse and field hockey; and Level 3 Heavy guards for sparring, boxing, mixed martial arts (MMA) and combat sports. If your child plays multiple sports, select the thickness based on their primary sport that needs the most protection.
If you’re ready to find the perfect mouthguard for your child, head on over to our online store to shop what GuardLab has to offer. With mouthguards starting at just $24.95, we’ve got something for every budget, sport and style, whether you want an invisible clear mouthguard or a statement-making gold teeth mouthguard. Don’t be afraid to stock up, because U.S. orders over $50 ship free!