Soccer is a popular sport played by millions of children worldwide. As with any physical activity, there are risks involved, including the potential for dental injuries. To help prevent these injuries, many states have enacted laws requiring children to wear mouthguards while playing soccer.
Why Mouthguards are Necessary
The mouth is a vulnerable area during sports activities, and soccer is no exception. A ball or a player’s foot can strike a child’s mouth, causing damage to teeth, gums, and lips. Injuries can range from minor chips and cuts to more severe damage that requires extensive dental work. Mouthguards provide a protective barrier that can help reduce the risk of these injuries.
State Laws Requiring Mouthguards in Soccer
Several states in the United States have laws requiring children to wear mouthguards while playing soccer. These laws vary in their specifics, but generally apply to children under a certain age or in specific youth soccer leagues. Some states require that the mouthguard be custom-fitted by a dentist, while others allow for over-the-counter options.
Benefits of Custom-Fitted Mouthguards
While over-the-counter mouthguards can provide some protection, custom-fitted mouthguards offer several advantages. They are designed to fit the child’s mouth precisely, providing better protection and comfort. They are also less likely to interfere with breathing and speaking, which can be an issue with poorly fitting mouthguards.
Types of Mouthguards
There are several types of mouthguards available, including stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and custom-fitted mouthguards. Stock mouthguards are pre-formed and come in a limited range of sizes. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are softened in hot water and then molded to the child’s mouth. Custom-fitted mouthguards are created by a dentist based on impressions of the child’s teeth.
Mouthguard Care and Maintenance
Mouthguards need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other germs. They should be rinsed with water after use and cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste at least once a week. They should also be stored in a clean, dry container when not in use.
When to Replace a Mouthguard
Mouthguards can become worn or damaged over time, reducing their effectiveness. They should be replaced if they become warped or lose their shape, if they develop holes or tears, or if they become discolored or foul-smelling. Children should also have their mouthguards checked by a dentist at least once a year to ensure they are still providing adequate protection.
Mouthguards are an important piece of safety equipment for children playing soccer. State laws requiring their use help ensure that children are protected from dental injuries. By choosing the right type of mouthguard and properly caring for it, parents can help keep their children safe on the soccer field.