When it comes to protecting your teeth while playing contact sports, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear. Studies have shown that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard. While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.
There are three types of mouthguards:
- Custom-fitted. These are made by the dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.
- Stock. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite. These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
A custom fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A hit to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries.
Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the best protection. Although mouthguards typically only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth too.
If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during contact sports.
Some tips for caring for your mouthguard:
- rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste
- occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse thoroughly
- transport the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents
- never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water
- check for wear and tear to see if it needs replacing
Please contact us if you have specific questions or would like to make an appointment for a custom-fitted mouthguard.