Oral Trauma & Mouthguards

How to deal with kids oral emergency Grin Natural

Is your child involved in sports? Do you worry or think about how their teeth could be affected during the activity?  If so, this post was written for you! Whether your child is active in contact sports or limited or non-contact sports, their mouths are at risk for potential injury based on previous dental research. The American Dental Association (ADA) encourages the use of mouth guards to help prevent sport-related injuries and it is important to provide education around this topic to ensure children and teens feel comfortable wearing these appliances for protection.

Similar to wearing a helmet and other protective gear during a sporting event or activity, mouth guards serve the same purpose but for protection of the mouth and teeth. The ADA advocates use of a mouth guard for the following contact and limited/non-contact sports:

Contact Sports:





Ice Hockey


Martial Arts


Field Hockey

Water Polo



Limited-Contact/Non-Contact Sports:














How to deal with kids oral emergency Grin Natural Kids Corner
  • Athletes are almost 2 TIMES as likely to experience orofacial trauma if not wearing some form of mouth guard. 
  • Mouth guard users are 82% to 93% less likely to experience trauma related to an orofacial injury by wearing a mouth guard. 

There are many over the counter options for mouth guards as well as custom-made options your dental provider can fabricate. The ADA encourages mouth guards to be properly fitted and secure, made by a material that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ideally cover all top teeth present, be able to stay in place during activity, easy to clean, and be able to absorb high-impact energy to help with reducing impact forces.  With that being said, there are several types of options to consider when deciding which mouth guard will suit your child best. Other factors to consider when deciding on a type of mouth guard include cost, comfort, access to a dentist, and child cooperation. 


How to deal with kids oral emergency Grin Natural Kids Oral Care Corner

The cheapest, easiest, and most accessible mouth guard option is one that is ready-made. The down side to these types of guards are that they are not made specifically for your child’s mouth. While they do come in different sizes, every mouth is shaped differently suggesting that the fit may not be as comfortable and to work, your child’s mouth must be kept shut in order for the guard to stay in place. 

The boil and bite mouth guard is more adaptable but does require some cooperation from your child. While these can also be found over-the-counter at local drug stores, be sure to look for ADA approved brands. These guards can be made at home by boiling water, placing the guard in the hot water to soften its material, then placed in your child’s mouth where the material will cool and self-adapt after biting. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the most optimal fit or have your dental provider assist in the process.  

The most effective type of mouth guard is one that is custom-made. These guards will fit only your child’s mouth because they are designed based on an impression of their teeth and surrounding structures. While they are the most expensive option, they are the most reliable and most comforting option for your child, meaning they may be most likely to keep them in during activity. 

Just like our teeth, mouth guards need to be cleaned regularly. Instead of using a toothpaste, have a backup Grin Natural toothbrush available and use a mild soapy water combination to clean the appliance after each use. 

By taking all of these factors into place, including how active your child is in sports, by encouraging the use of mouth guard wear, you are helping to protect your child’s smile. As always, be sure to talk with your dentist and include them in your decision making when it comes to choosing the most appropriate option for your child based on their involvement in sports. 

Kristen Cockrell. Kristen is a Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive pediatric dentistry and oral health education. Kristen has recently graduated with a master’s degree in dental hygiene education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Instagram: @kristenwcockrell

Sarah Liebkemann. Sarah is a Registered Dental Hygienist who is passionate about doing fun activities with kids to educate them about oral health. Sarah also runs an Instagram page @sll.stories where you can find a lot of dental educational resources for your little ones. From now on, Sarah will be also sharing her talent and knowledge with our Grin community.