The mouthguard, which is also called the mouth protector, is a flexible custom-fitted device that is worn by athletes over their teeth during athletics or any other recreational activity to protect their teeth from damage.
You need a good-fitting mouthguard if you have fixed anterior bridgework, wear braces, or if you want to protect your teeth from potential problems. In a nutshell, the mouthguard buffers damage and shocks to your teeth, brace, or any other fixed device in your mouth from hard impacts and blows.
More so, mouthguards act as guarding barriers between your teeth or bracket and your cheeks, and between your tongue and lips. Thus, mouthguards reduce the risk of damage to these soft tissues.
Typically, ideal mouthguards have the following qualities:
- Do not limit your breathing.
- Do not affect how you speak.
- Fit firmly in place when in use.
- Offer you a high degree of fit and comfort.
- Are durable and very easy to clean.
- Are tasteless, odourless, tear-resistant, and resilient.
Mouth guards are generally worn on the upper teeth. However, some dental practitioners may suggest that athletes who wear brackets, dental implants, bridgework, retainers, or other dental appliances on their lower jaw, or those with protruding lower jaws wear the mouth guards on their lower teeth.
Who Should Wear Mouth Guards?
The US National Collegiate Athletic Association presently requires that only athletes in the following sports must use custom mouth guards – football, field hockey, lacrosse, and ice hockey. However, the ADA requires that custom mouth guards be worn for 29 different sporting activities and exercises. These are football, field hockey, lacrosse, ice hockey, wrestling, weightlifting, water polo, volleyball, surfing, squash, soccer, skydiving, skiing, skateboarding, shot putting, rugby, racquetball, martial arts, handball, gymnastics, discus throwing, boxing, basketball, and acrobatics.
Basically, custom mouth guards should be worn whenever there’s a likelihood of contact or impact with hard surfaces or other players.
If you need professional advice on how to protect your teeth with the right kind of custom mouth guard during any athletic activity, don’t hesitate to contact us and our well-trained dentist would help you to select a custom mouth guard that will give you the best possible dental protection.
Benefits of Using Custom Mouth Guards
An important precaution for athletes irrespective of their abilities and ages is wearing a mouth guard. Wearing custom mouth guards help to protect athletes against broken or chipped teeth, tooth loss, and tooth and root damage. More so, using custom mouth guards safeguard athletes against any serious injury like neck injuries, concussion, cerebral haemorrhage, and jaw fracture, by helping athletes to prevent dental conditions where the lower jaw logjams into the upper jaw. Custom mouth guards can also help in preventing the bruising and cutting of the cheek, tongue, and lips, especially for those who wear orthodontic devices, by keeping away the soft tissue from the teeth.
Types of Mouth Guards
Typically, there are three different types of mouth guards, which are:
Stock Mouth Guards
This type of mouth guards can be easily purchased in drug stores or sporting shops because it is already prefabricated and ready to wear. The stock mouth guard is the most affordable of all types but also the least protective and comfortable. In fact, it is also the worst fitting type of mouth guard.
Stock mouth guards are made up of polyvinyl or rubber. These prefabricated guards can make speaking and breathing difficult, and increase the likelihood to gag. This is because stock mouth guards require you to close your jaw to hold them in place.
Mouth-Formed Mouth Guards
This type of mouth guards can either be a boil-and-bite or a shell liner kind. The shell liner mouth-formed guards are lined with rubber or acrylic gel that moulds to your teeth. It sets to keep the shape of your teeth.
Just like its name, the boil-and-bite type, which is made of thermoplastic, is inserted in boiling water, formed, and moulded to fit the shape of your teeth using your biting pressure, tongue, lips, and fingers. In case you aren’t comfortable with the initial guard fit, you can reheat and refit this type of mouth guards.
Generally, the mouth-formed mouth guards can be purchased online or at any sporting goods and drug store. Though this type of mouth guard provides a better fit than the stock mouth guard, they offer less protection and fit than the custom mouth guard and can be bulky.
Custom Mouth Guards
This type of mouth guards is the most expensive of all types of mouth guards. This is because they offer the highest degree of protection, comfort, and fit. Custom mouth guards are made from a cast that fits your teeth precisely.
To have the custom mouth guard fitted in your mouth, your dental practitioner would first take an impression of your teeth, which acts as a mould that would be used by your dentist to create your custom mouth guard.
The custom mouth guards are perfectly designed to protect all your teeth and to offer a cushion against blows and impact to the chin. Some custom mouth guards have soft inner layers and hard outer layers for comfort to the gums and teeth. More so, some custom mouth guards are made of acrylic, while others are made with other materials for athletes who are allergic to acrylics. To learn more about mouth guards, click here.
Why Some Athletes Don’t Wear Mouth Guards
Notwithstanding the many benefits of mouth guards, some athletes don’t always use it during sporty activities. This is because of the notion that wearing the mouth guard is not cool and comfortable. More so, the hassle of properly caring for the mouth guards, remembering to wear them, and handling impaired speaking and breathing also contributes to why some athletes avoid the device.
Since using the mouth guards is only recommended for both professional and amateur athletes but not mandatory for them, these athletes see this as an opportunity to avoid using the device. However, these athletes do not realize the real safety value inherent in using the mouth guard.
Coaches and parents should emphasize the benefit and importance of wearing the mouth guards to their athletes and children respectively. But most parents are not fully aware of the likely serious dental injuries involved in their children’s sport activities
Gender bias is another reason why some athletes do not use mouth guards. Some people mistakenly believe that female athletes are less aggressive or participate in less aggressive sporting activities, therefore, they are less at risk of dental injury and do not need a mouth guard.
The cost of mouth guards may be another factor that limits their use by athletes. Mouthguards come in different price ranges and the custom mouth guards being the most expensive.
In conclusion, the mouth is a delicate part of the body that is always exposed to the danger of blows and impact during sporting activities, so, it should be protected using a mouth guard. More so, different sporting activities have different levels of potential injury and risk. Hence, it is important that you consult a dentist who will help to design a customized mouth guard based on your specific sporting activity. Do you need additional information about mouth guards? Then click here.