Sports mouth guards have become an increasingly vital accessory when playing a wide variety of sports. Contact sports, or sports in which falling or being hit by flying objects are constant risks, are uppermost on this list.
Athletes wear sports mouth guards over the top row of teeth to help prevent injuries during competition or training. The injuries that they help to prevent include broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to the gums, tongue or the rest of the mouth.
In addition to helping protect your teeth, gums, etc., some mouthguards can also protect dental appliances that the athlete may be wearing on the lower jaw.
Orthodontic sports mouthguards can also be purchased with features specifically to protect athletes wearing orthodontic braces. A good example of such a sports mouth guard is the Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard / Strapless.
Although they may cost as much as $30 or $40, this is a minimal investment when compared to the hundreds or thousands of dollars that one can spend repairing or replacing damaged teeth, for example.
The protection that they provide will also help the athlete perform with less distraction due to concern over the risk of possible injuries.
Although it is sometimes claimed that sports mouth guards can be used to reduce the severity of concussion injuries, there is in fact no evidence to support this conclusion.
Types Of Sports Mouth Guard
Generally speaking, there are three types:
Custom made mouthguards are designed and made for the athlete. You will usually get these sports mouthguards from a dentist or a dental laboratory. An impression is first made of the athlete’s teeth and is then used to construct a mouth guard.
The main advantage of these sports mouth guards is their comfort and fit (since they are custom made). However, this feature is also behind their main disadvantage – that they are the most expensive of the three options available.
Boil & Bite mouthguards are purchased in a pre formed shape. However, the athlete can then obtain a customized fit from the initial model. To do so, the mouthguard is first boiled in water, making it soft and pliable. The athlete then bites into it and reshapes it into a customized fit.
Although these provide a better fit than the stock mouth guards we consider below, they fall short of the fitting performance from a custom made mouth guard from a dentist or dental laboratory. To get the best results, it is important to follow the manufacturers’ directions precisely.
Generally speaking, boil and bite mouthguards lie between the custom made mouthguards and the stock mouthguards (below) where cost is concerned. Most of the mouth guards sold on this site are boil and bite.
Stock sports mouth guards come pre formed (as do the boil and bite type). However, they cannot be re-shaped further. This type of mouthguard is usually the most economical available. However, it generally provides the worst fit, and breathing and speaking may be problematic.
For Which Sports Might A Sports Mouth Guard Be Important?
First on the list would be sports that present a threat due to possible collisions between the participants. These include football, soccer, basketball and other similar sports.
Next would be combat sports in which the athletes exchange punches or kicks as part of the action. This would include boxing, kick boxing and martial arts such as karate, for example.
Another category would be sports that present a risk of falling, such as cycling, skiing, skateboarding and other similar activities.
Finally, there are sports in which the athlete is at risk of being hit by a flying object that can cause serious oral or lingual damage. These sports would include cricket, baseball and lacrosse, for example.
How Long Do Sports MouthGuards Last?
Mouth guards wear down over time and become less effective. As a result, they should ideally be replaced each season.
If the athlete is a teenager who is undergoing rapid growth spurts, the shape of his or her mouth may be changing exceptionally rapidly. In this case, we would suggest getting professional dental advice on replacement frequency.
Choosing The Best Mouth Guard
For best results, choose a mouth guard that is resilient and comfortable to wear. It should also be resistant to tearing.
The mouthguard you use should not interfere with your breathing or speech. This is particularly important in team sports when your ability to communicate clearly with your teammates is vital, both for the performance of the team and the safety of its members.
When possible, you should choose a mouth guard that is free of latex, BPA and Phthalates for optimum safety.
DISCLAIMER: * Please note that, although Dunbar Medical distributes many premier brands in Sports Medicine and Home Health Care, we do not provide medical advice. As a result, we caution all users of this site not to regard its contents as medical, legal or other professional advice. Please do not attempt to use the information on this site to understand or treat any health or fitness problem or disease you may be experiencing. Instead, please seek the advice and assistance of a healthcare professional in order to understand the treatments or therapies that are appropriate for your particular condition.