School sports have begun, and players are hitting the field. Through all the ups and downs, don’t let your kid’s oral health get put on the bench. Follow these five tips to maintain terrific teeth from the first practice to the final buzzer.
Always wear a mouth guard
Mouth guards significantly reduce teeth and mouth injuries, including chipped teeth, lip cuts and jaw damage. There are three kinds of mouth guards – ready-made, boil-and-bite and custom. You can purchase the first two at sports or retail stores, but the boil-and-bite type is a bit more form-fitting. Custom mouth guards are pricier, but they offer the best fit.
Choose water to hydrate
Water is the best way to hydrate during practices and games, but some athletes consume sports drinks that are harmful to teeth. Sports drinks aren’t actually necessary for proper hydration, and they often contain high levels of sugar and acid. Plus, drinking water helps wash away food and cavity-causing bacteria from teeth.
Fuel up like an oral health all-star
Nutrition is a huge part of athletic performance. Before your kids enjoy a pre-game meal, take a few moments to think about their oral health. Reach for nutritious sources of carbohydrates such as whole-grain breads, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes. And don’t forget high-protein foods like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy and nuts.
Keep teeth and mouth guards clean
With continued use, mouth guards can harbor some pretty foul bacteria. Make sure your kids brush their teeth before popping in their mouth guards and after taking them out. It’s important to wash mouth guards after each use according to your dentist’s instructions or as noted on the packaging.
Be prepared for a mouth injury
With a high-contact sport, athletes are at a higher risk for dental injuries. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, between 13 and 39 percent of all dental injuries are caused by athletic activities. Be prepared by knowing where to go, whom to see and how your coverage applies in cases of mouth emergencies.