According to the American Dental Association (ADA), one third of all dental injuries are sports related. This includes chipped and broken teeth, fractured crowns or bridgework, lip and cheek injuries, tooth root damage, fractured jaws, concussions and more. The ADA estimates that the use of a sports mouthguard can prevent in excess of two hundred thousand oral injuries each and every year, which is why a sports mouthguard should be used by anyone who participates in a sport where falls, body contact or flying equipment is possible.
Understanding Sports Mouthguards
Sports mouthguards, which are sometimes also referred to as athletic mouthguards, sports guards, mouth protectors or even just mouthguards, are dental devices that protect your teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw from injury in the event of impact to the face and head. Made from soft plastic or laminate, sports mouthguards are usually worn over the upper teeth (though they sometimes can be used over the bottom teeth as well) in order to prevent face or head impacts from resulting in broken teeth, cut lips or other damage.
Some collision sports, like football, hockey and boxing, require the use of sports mouthguards since the risk of head and face impact and injury is very high. The use of a sports mouthguard is also recommended for those who participate in the sports of basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer and volleyball. The intention, of course, is to prevent damage as much as is possible.
What Sports Mouthguard Should I Use?
While there can be some subtle variations within each type, there are three main types of sports mouthguards:
- Stock mouthguards. These are essentially one-size-fits-all propositions that you can buy in most athletic supply stores. They are pre-formed and inexpensive, but that’s where their benefits end. They tend to be bulky and uncomfortable, making breathing and talking difficult, and doing a relatively poor job of protecting the teeth and mouth.
- Boil-and-bite mouthguards. These mouthguards are a subtle step up from stock mouthguards. They are still pre-formed, but more generally than stock mouthguards, and you boil them to soften them before biting down on them in order to get a more “custom” fit. They are still relatively inexpensive and can be found in most athletic supply stores, and they can fit a little better than stock mouthguards, but they still tend to be a little bulky and uncomfortable. They also aren’t very good at protecting the teeth.
- Custom mouthguards. These are the best mouthguard option, as they are individually designed to fit your mouth perfectly and are therefore the most comfortable and protective option. You can only get custom mouthguards by visiting your dentist. He will take an impression of your upper teeth and send it to a dental laboratory, where the mouthguard will be custom made. Your dentist can check the mouthguard’s fit prior to having you take it home, and will be able to make small adjustments as is needed.
The Best Option
Well taken care of, custom sports mouthguards can last for a good amount of time. However, since they must be bitten down upon while in use, they will wear out over time, and once they become worn or in any way cracked or damaged it is important to have them replaced.
You may feel that custom sports mouthguards are a more costly option than stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards, but that’s only when you are considering the cost of the mouthguard itself. Custom sports mouthguards protect the teeth and mouth far better and for far longer than stock or boil-and-bite mouthguards, which can save you the time, money and discomfort involved in restorative dental work.
For more information about sports mouthguards, contact Today’s Dental now.