Anyone who plays a sport where there is a risk of collision with another person or a hard surface should wear a mouthguard. The obvious sports are football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey (ice, field, roller), martial arts, boxing, wrestling, MMA and basketball. Not as obvious but just as important are baseball, volleyball, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, softball, skiing, snowboarding, BMX bicycling, racquetball, acrobatics and skateboarding. All these sports have the potential for facial and oral injuries, and a mouthguard is recommended.
As recommended by the ADA and the Academy for Sports Dentistry, a pressure-laminated, custom fitted mouthguard offers the best protection in contact sports. A custom fitted mouthguard allows for a more comfortable, stable fit that won’t dislodge during collisions. Also, breathing and speaking are much easier, and the risk of concussions and damage to the jaw is greatly reduced.
An adult mouthguard can last several years, depending on the frequency of use, the care of the mouthguard, and if the mouthguard has been torn or bitten through, in which case it must be replaced. Loss of teeth, new restorations such as crowns, bridges or large fillings can affect the fit of the mouthguard, and a new one should be made if the fit is compromised.
A child’s mouthguard should be replaced more frequently than an adult’s due to growth of the jaw, loss of baby teeth and eruption of adult teeth. Any of these factors could affect the fit of the mouthguard and make it uncomfortable to wear and less protective.
After use, mouthguards may be rinsed in cold, soapy water. If an odor develops, they may also be rinsed with mouthwash. After they are clean and dry, your mouthguard should then be placed in a plastic container.
Mouthguards may distort under higher temperatures, so they should not be stored in direct sunlight, or left in a car on a hot day.
Mouthguards can be made for you if you wear braces. Usually, special wax is placed over the braces during the impression, so the impression material does not get stuck in the brackets or the wires.
Loose teeth should be removed before taking a mouthguard impression. Space will be left in the mouthguard for the adult tooth – it is especially important to wear a mouthguard at this time, because the developing tooth must be protected.
Store bought mouthguards are made by the thousands, with a one-size-fits-all mentality. If you think about it, an adult custom fitted mouthguard , if cared for properly, will outlast several of the store bought kind. But the fact is, you can’t get a better fit than with a custom mouthguard. Superior material, time to individually manufacture them, great fit and comfort with ease of breathing and speaking all make the custom mouthguard a premium piece of sports equipment.
You wouldn’t skimp on your athletic shoes or any of your other protective equipment. So why not give yourself the best protection for your mouth? The cost of repairing damage to the teeth and gums can run into the thousands, and leave you with a permanently compromised dentition, not to mention the increased risk of debilitating concussions.