Mouthguards are an important piece of equipment when participating in sports or activities involving body contact, falls, moving equipment or any risk of injury to the mouth. They are coverings worn over teeth to protect them from damage and grinding. Here’s what you need to know about athletic mouthguards to ensure optimal protection and performance.
Types of Mouthguards
Stock guards are generic, pre-made protectors that can be purchased at sports shops. They’re typically bulky, un-adjustable and do not provide high quality protection, but are inexpensive options. Boil and bite mouthguards are also available at sporting goods stores and offer a more precise fit. These guards are made from thermoplastic material, which is softened in warm water and placed in your mouth to create a protector shaped to your teeth. Custom-fitted sports guards are individually designed by dental professionals by making an impression of your teeth and moulding a guard to fit your mouth perfectly. Custom-built protectors are more costly than other types, but provide the most comfort and protection.
Signs of an Effective Mouthguard
There are a few key indicators of an effective mouthguard that you should look for. First, the protector you choose should be comfortable. You should notice it in your mouth, but it should not feel overbearing or cause any sort of pain. Second, it should not restrict your speech or breathing. Your speech may not be as clear, but you should be able to talk and breathe freely. Third, it should be durable and simple to clean. Your mouthguard should be able to resist tears and come clean with a combination of water, a cleaning agent and a toothbrush.
Who Needs a Mouthguard?
Adults and children that participate in contact sports, non-contact sports or recreational activities should use a mouthguard. Risk of injury is high in contact sports such as hockey, basketball, lacrosse, boxing and football. Non-contact sports and recreational activities may appear to be less injury prone, but pose many hazards to your mouth. Whether you’re involved in gymnastics, baseball, biking or skateboarding, mouth wear will always offer an extra element of protection.
Mouthguards are also beneficial for teeth grinding that often occurs during sports and recreational activities. They minimize your ability to clench your jaw or teeth while practicing and playing, which prevents your body from releasing stress-related hormones that can hinder peak performance.
How Long Should Guards Last?
Athletic mouthguards wear down over time and should ideally be replaced after each season to ensure teeth are always properly protected. Replacement is especially important for young athletes because their mouths constantly grow and teeth continue to develop. If you notice any change in the quality or structural integrity of your mouth protector, consider replacing it and consult with your dentist.
Caring for Mouthguards
Guards are relatively easy to care for. Here are a few maintenance tips:
- Rinse with cool or lukewarm water after each use
- Thoroughly clean with water, mild soap and a toothbrush as needed (dependent on use)
- Store in a firm, perforated container to prevent damage and allow air circulation
- Do not expose to high temperatures, such as hot water, hot surfaces or direct sunlight, to prevent deformity
If you’ve been putting the health and safety of your teeth at risk, it’s time to take the next step. Our dental team can build a custom mouthguard in only one day to comfortably fit your teeth and effectively protect your mouth. Not ready to invest in a custom-designed guard? No problem. Contact us for suggestions about the best mouthguard to suit your activity level and budget.