CLEVELAND - School is back in session and your kids might be active in all kinds of sports. You want to help protect your child from injuries, so you want to get them a mouth guard. There are lots of choices out there.
We are on your side finding the experts and comparing prices so, you keep your cash and keep your kids safer.
If your child is high school age like the guys we caught up with at Elyria Catholic, ask any of the players or coaches about mouth guards and they'll tell you the equipment is needed.
"They're pretty important. They help us out," said high school junior Will Lacinak.
"The development of it has really expanded in the last couple of years," Head Coach Mike Polevacik recalled.
"When everyone's going 100 percent, everyone hits as hard as they can," said senior Lucas Ball.
Moms like Sarah Di Sanza want to protect their kids the best they can. Her pint-size powerful son Matteo Di Sansa who's seven plays in Garretsville.
" I've never seen so many mouth guards," said Sarah while examining a lot of choices of mouth guards. "I was expecting a section of four."
And therein lies the issue. Walk into any Dick's Sporting Goods store like the one at Legacy Village and you'll see dozens of different kinds of mouth guards.
We saw labels with "Ultra-2", "Gel Nano", "Triple Layer Technology" and so much more.
"These companies are all exploring new materials to use in these," said Ben Shank who is with Community Marketing at Dick's. He showed us all the brands available. Some are even flavored like bubble gum or fruit punch.
The prices are flavored differently, too. You can buy one for $150. You can buy one for $9.99. Plus, there are many prices in between. So, what's the difference?
"The quality doesn't differ too much among the price levels," explained Shank. "It's more so the price can go up if it's a mouthpiece designed for someone who wears braces," he added.
That's because you will need an upper and a lower guard to protect a mouth with braces, but even lighter versions like one Shank showed us from Under Armor can run you $60.
In the middle of the mouth guard aisle at Dicks, there's a guide to help customers choose.
"You want to cover all the teeth in your mouth and you want it to be comfortable for the kid so they can breathe, so they can talk because communications is key in sports," explained Shank.
"It can definitely be overwhelming. There are a lot of different types," said Todd Coy who is the Head of Dentistry at Cleveland Clinic and works with the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team.
He told us custom-made mouth guards you get from your dentist probably give you the best protection, but they can cost anywhere from $100-$250. Plus, many insurance plans don't cover the expense.
So, we asked what your best bet is to start out so your wallet doesn't take too much of a hit?
"Any well-fitting mouth guard can provide reasonable protection," said Dr. Coy. "The middle of the range (in price) is generally a nice trial. They can be formed to the teeth and provide some type of protection," he added.
Sarah knows how tough it can be with her little guy so, she picked up one at the store all while keeping her options open for perhaps a custom-made mouth guard later. "Maybe further down the line," said Sarah. "When he goes into the pros, we'll look into that," Sarah said with a laugh.
With all of the choices, we asked if there were different types of mouth guards for the different sports. The answer is no. Just get one that fits and is comfortable.