16 Mar Be on guard! The (martial) art of protecting your child’s teeth…
Combating the challenge of your child’s teeth is a lifestyle habit!
Protection for children’s teeth in combat sports needs huge improvement
If you saw my most recent blog on sugar, you’ll know that I’m passionate about helping children, giving top tips on preventing tooth decay and improving their overall health.
Protecting your child’s teeth isn’t just about nurturing what they eat and drink though is it? It’s very much a lifestyle habit for parents all the way through their teens too.
I asked myself a question as a dentist and parent when I was recently surprised to learn of some serious risks that kids unwittingly take with their teeth playing combat sports.
I have two sons, aged 11 and 7, and a daughter aged 3. The boys have recently taken up Taekwondo, and my daughter can’t wait to join up too! It’s a great sport, I’ve met some incredibly dedicated coaches and they’ve helped me understand what I knew very little about until my kids took an interest – it teaches them great discipline, they’re part of a team and they benefit hugely from the physical exercise. Taekwondo also requires commitment – parents invest in equipment and attire, subs and competition fees, not to mention travel and hotels when attending tournaments.
I was especially surprised that none of the children and teenagers were wearing appropriate mouth protection – and a couple of them are competing for Great Britain!
It’s a condition of competition that mouth protection is worn, but to the best of my knowledge there is no stipulation what that constitutes. All of these young people were using cheap, off-the-shelf products, what I’d call ‘one size fits nobody’. A plastic ‘tray’ roughly the shape of an upper jaw, is warmed in hot water and then moulded in the mouth. Trust me, these things are very dangerous – they can potentially make injuries worse and can even be swallowed. In my opinion they need to be banned.
But what about the cost of making a custom-fitted bespoke appliance? They can cost anything from £30 to £100. Let me tell you that’s cheap, and one of the best investments you could make for your son or daughter. I’ll explain.
Let’s suppose, god forbid, your child has a tooth or teeth knocked out or irreparably damaged. The cost of replacing those teeth can run into thousands of pounds, not to mention lengthy treatment involving multiple visits.
Custom mouth guards are constructed in a strong resilient polymer from an impression of the mouth – only dental professionals can legally do this. A skilled dental technician then makes the mouth guard which not only fits very accurately but is comfortable to wear and won’t move about when worn.
In addition, these mouthguards contain the owners’ name tag, and a radio-opaque marker which allows detection by x-ray in the unlikely event that it’s swallowed. You can even include your club logo if you so desire!
So, a relatively small price for proper protection, or a few thousand for replacement teeth. The choice is yours. Any high street dental practice will be happy to make you one of these for a nominal fee.
Dr Matt Lawler
Clinical Director & Principal Dentist
Peelhouse Dental Care, Widnes