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Why Do Kids Need Mouth Guards

As a parent, your list of necessities for your children is ever-changing but never-ending. Diapers, wipes, onesies, toys, school supplies, and so on… Sports mouth guards for children or night guards for protection?

Yes, many young children require an oral appliance as they grow. Even babies may need to wear a night guard if they are at risk of damaging their developing teeth due to grinding or clenching.

So, why might your child require a dentistry mouthpiece? A night guard shields their lips, tongue, and face from the effects of a collision. It protects their teeth and jaw from the damage caused by grinding.

Children who participate in sports are the most likely to require mouth guards. They are effective at preventing teeth from being chipped, broken, or completely knocked out (which we appreciate as parents!). 

However, as you might expect, there are significant differences between children’s and adult oral appliances. 

There Are Mouth Guards for Different Purposes

In general, when looking for dental mouth guards, you’ll find two main categories. 

Mouth Guards for Trauma Avoidance

First, there are bite mouth guards, such as sports mouth guards, that protect growing teeth from trauma. They are used by children who participate in contact sports such as football, lacrosse, and martial arts.

Sports guards are not custom-fit, but they can reduce the severity of a head impact. When playing rough, wearing a youth mouth guard reduces the risk of tooth and jaw damage, as well as concussion.

The other type is designed specifically for children with bruxism, also known as teeth grinding.

Night Guards for Bruxism

Many people are surprised to learn that children can suffer from bruxism.

If you’re like most of us, you probably didn’t realize teeth grinding was a thing. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you or your child developed symptoms, and a dentist diagnosed bruxism.

We know what you’re thinking: 

  • how can my child be grinding their teeth when they haven’t even fully developed? 
  • what can I do to assist them?

Although you are understandably concerned, childhood bruxism is quite common. In fact, studies show that nearly half of all children have bruxism at some point in their lives. It usually begins after the majority of their deciduous (or baby) teeth have emerged.

Why Kids Grind Their Teeth

Stress and nervousness are common causes of grinding and clenching. Although the average child does not experience pressure in the same way that adults do, they do have their own versions. 

Their bodies are stressed as they grow, and their developing minds are racing at a million miles per hour with questions and ideas.

Your child most likely has no idea they’re doing it. They can’t stop it on their own because it’s involuntary.

Is Bruxism Scary?

While bruxism is not inherently dangerous, the consequences can be excruciating. Your child is constantly grinding down the enamel on their teeth or clenching their jaw. The problems spread into the neck and shoulder muscles over time, causing headaches and pain.

How to stop the behavior is different for each child and depends on why they’re grinding. 

For example, if a child witnesses a traumatic event, they may benefit from speaking with a counselor. Some counseling professionals teach young children how to process their emotions.

Take steps to limit the damage while you work with the dentist or doctor to determine the cause of their grinding. Bruxism’s side effects can be painful, but you can help by getting your child a mouthguard.

The guards are not interchangeable, so be cautious when shopping! You want nothing but the best for your child’s teeth. The right one makes a huge difference in the development of a young human being.

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