When Should My Child Wear a Mouth Guard or Night Guard?


Make sure your child’s teeth are protected at all times.

Many sports are considered contact sports for a reason; there is a lot of contact, and as such, the chance for injury dramatically increases. Basketball, football, soccer, hockey, cheerleading, baseball, wrestling, volleyball, you name it. If you’re like most parents, you walk a fine line, balancing your desire for your children to participate in sports but doing everything you can to keep them from sustaining potential injuries. Thankfully, wearing a mouth guard can help protect those who enjoy contact sports.

What is a mouth guard or night guard?

If you are confused about the difference between a mouth guard and a night guard, rest assured that you aren’t alone. After all, it’s common for patients to confuse the two. While both of these oral devices are designed to protect your child’s teeth, they serve different purposes. A mouth guard, sometimes called a sports guard, is designed to protect the teeth while the wearer is engaged in contact sports.

However, a night guard is designed to help those who might be suffering from bruxism or teeth grinding in their sleep. Even children can struggle with stress and anxiety. This stress and anxiety can lead to teeth grinding, which frequently occurs during the night while your child is sleeping. Bruxism can also result from missing or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. In other cases, it is caused by sleep apnea.

When should a mouth guard be worn?

Mouth guards provide many benefits for athletes involved in contact sports. Though mouth guards are flexible and designed to fit the mouth comfortably, they are strong enough to protect your child’s mouth from trauma. Mouth guards cover your child’s teeth and gums when they are at play, helping to reduce the risks and prevent injury to the teeth and mouth.

Though we listed just a few types of contact sports earlier, the American Dental Association suggests that mouth guards are used in 29 unique sports and activities. In addition to those we shared, the ADA lists sports, such as acrobatics, basketball, bicycling, boxing, equestrian sports, handball, martial arts, racquetball, skateboarding, skydiving, and water polo, among others.

When your child wears a mouth guard, they can prevent chipped teeth as well as tooth loss. Some of these dental injuries can require months of treatment.

When should a night guard be worn?

Night guards provide relief for bruxism sufferers who regularly grind or clench their teeth during the night. When left untreated, frequent grinding or clenching can lead to several negative oral health consequences. Grinding wears away the protective enamel layer of the teeth, which increases the risk of cavities and other dental health issues. Teeth clenching can result in chipped or cracked teeth over time from placing significant pressure on the jaw. This can also lead to chronic jaw aches and headaches.

Though night guards can’t change the habits that led to the stress and anxiety or the tooth grinding itself, it can provide a protective layer that cushions the teeth against wear and tear. When your child wears a night guard regularly, it can seriously reduce the risk of damage to their teeth. Your child will also experience minimized jaw aches and morning headaches and will get a much more restful sleep.

How can I get a mouth guard or night guard for my child?

As parents, we often have many questions about our kids’ dental needs, but questions about mouth guards and night guards can be quickly answered. The Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry team offers preventive dental services, such as mouth guards, that can keep your child in the game and keep their teeth and mouth safe while they’re on the field during athletic practices, competitions, and social play.

Though there are over-the-counter mouth guards and night guards available at pharmacies and certain grocery stores, most pediatric dentists will suggest custom guards for various reasons.

  • Custom night and mouth guards provide the perfect fit for your child’s smile.
  • Custom night guards made by your child’s pediatric dentist provide maximum comfort, ensuring a snug fit so it stays in place while your child sleeps.
  • We make custom guards with durable, high-quality material that’s designed to last for many years.
  • Custom guards can be made thicker for those with severe teeth grinding or issues with TMJ.
  • Custom guards alleviate jaw strain and promote better jaw muscle positioning than those purchased from a store by ensuring your child’s jaw is aligned correctly.
  • Dental insurance will often cover guards made by your child’s pediatric dentist.

We make mouth guards to precisely fit your child’s teeth and bite. Further, mouth guards are designed with a comfortable fit, providing superior protection. If your child is active in sports and needs a mouth guard or if you think your child might be suffering from bruxism, give us a call to discuss the best treatment options. You can also request an appointment on our website.