At any age, participating in competitive sports or other physical activities is fun, engaging and a great source of exercise — all of which is important for keeping your whole body healthy. But many physical activities can leave your teeth and mouth particularly vulnerable to damage and injury. Don’t forget to take your teeth into account when you’re gearing up for your next match or competition!
Mouthguards (also known as sports guards and mouth protectors) are particularly important in activities such as boxing, wrestling, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, skateboarding, hockey, gymnastics, mountain biking and more — anything involving frequent falls, bodily contact or equipment.
Whatever sport you participate in, we recommend visiting our office to have a custom mouthguard created. According to extensive scientific research, a custom mouthguard offers the best protection.
A stock mouthguard is the lowest-cost option when it comes to oral protection, but the one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work with the human mouth, which can vary greatly from person to person in shape and size. Off-the-shelf stock mouthguards cannot be adjusted for an improved fit, and while it’s better than nothing, it’s not considered adequate protection. They can also make breathing and talking difficult due to the bulky, awkward fit, making athletes less likely to want to wear them.
Mouth-formed protectors, or “boil-and-bite” mouthguards, are an upgrade over stock mouthguards because they are molded to your teeth. The thermoplastic rubber construction softens in hot water, allowing it to become shaped to your individual mouth before hardening. But unfortunately, the protection provided by these mouthguards is still quite limited. As they are only available in a few sizes, they may not be properly fitted to your mouth, and often fail to cover the back teeth.
For these reasons, if you’re serious about protecting your teeth, a custom mouthguard from a dentist is the only way to go. In fact, no commercially available mouthguard was found to meet commonly accepted standards for impact protection in 2009.
Be sure to visit your dentist to have a custom mouthguard made before beginning your sport. The dentist will make an impression of your mouth for the best level of protection and the most comfortable fit. You should also return to have a new mouthguard made after each season because they do wear down over time. This is especially important for adolescents whose mouths may still be in the process of growing and changing.