What is a Sports Guard or Mouthguard?
A mouth guard – sometimes called a mouth protector or sports guard – is a device that is worn over the teeth to protect them from blows to the face when anyone participating in any activity that could cause injury to the mouth, particularly when playing sports. Mouthguards are essential for athletes who play sports that involve impact, contact, falling, or flying equipment such as:
- Mountain biking
Mouthguards typically cover the upper teeth, protecting against broken or chipped teeth, and injury to the lips. A mouthguard may be worn on the lower teeth as well, particularly If you wear braces or some other type of fixed dental appliance such as a bridge.
What types of Mouthguards can I choose from?
There are three basic types of mouthguards:
- Stock mouthguards – These are inexpensive and sold as ready to wear mouth protectors. Because they are pre-formed, stock mouthguards typically don’t fit very well and may be bulky and uncomfortable.
- Boil and bite mouthguards – These come pre-formed but their shape may be altered by boiling them in water to soften the plastic, then biting into the plastic to create a customized mold. Boil and bite mouthguards are available at many sporting goods stores. While these may fit better than stock mouth protectors, they may still cause some discomfort as their shape will never be perfectly molded to your teeth.
- Custom-made mouthguards – Custom-made mouthguards are made in your dentist’s office or by a professional dental laboratory using an impression taken of your teeth. Because these mouthguards fit better, they are naturally more comfortable, and most professional athletes prefer them over any other type. While customized mouth guards cost more than others, they also last longer and provide better protection.
At Dentistry of West Bend, we are happy to craft custom-made mouthguards for our patients who play contact or impact sports. Our custom-made mouthguards are guaranteed to fit properly and provide maximum comfort.
How long do mouth guards last?
Adults should replace their mouthguards each season because the plastic may wear down over time, making them less effective. In children and adolescents, mouthguards must be replaced regularly as their mouths and teeth continue to grow and develop. Many professional athletes have new custom mouthguards made every six months or so.