If you are an athlete, protecting your mouth from injuries sustained is crucial. Contact sports can be very harsh on the sensitive regions of the body, most notably the face. When not wearing proper safety gear, you are leaving yourself open to great risk. All it takes is one wrong blow to the head and you could be faced with chipped teeth, a damaged gum line or worse. For this reason, wearing an athletic mouth guard at all times during play is highly recommended.
Choosing the Right Athletic Mouth Guard
These products are not all made the same, however, and those that do not fit snug or conform to the contours of your mouth will not do as much to protect your mouth from injury. Custom-fit athletic mouth guards are designed to provide full protection and cushion any contact that may occur; they essentially act as a reinforcing barrier that absorbs the impact, much the same way a modern car does when it gets in a collision.
In addition to direct contact with an external force, athletic mouth guards also prevent your teeth from grinding against each other, which is a natural response. This can cause considerable pain and long-term effects that may not be immediately noticeable, such as extensive damage/erosion of tooth enamel and the integrity of the chewing surface.
Types of Athletic Mouth Guards
- Stock protectors
- Boil and bite protectors
- Custom-fit mouth protectors
Many beginning athletes opt for these types because they are cheap and readily available at most retail stores. Though they may be inexpensive, their inferior quality and inability to protect teeth definitely shows. Since the mold is pre-manufactured and cannot be adjusted, only a few lucky users with the proper jaw size can use them correctly. Other disadvantages of stock protectors include bulky size that makes it hard to speak and breathe. The most important factor, however, and why stock models pale in comparison to custom protectors, is their poor protection.
These types offer a greater degree of protection than stock ones, namely because they are designed to conform better to the user’s mouth. They are comprised of thermoplastic material that can be shaped after being boiled in water. Given the potential for user error during the molding process, most dentists do not recommend them for use by athletes.
For many reasons, these types are the premier choice for athletes and anyone else needing superior mouth protection. Every mold is made specifically for the person using it, which means an althetic mouth guard that will conform perfectly to the individual jaw contours. Since they require your dentist to make an impression and subsequently have a lab manufacture the mold, custom-fit types are more costly up front. However, once in place, they will protect your teeth from potential harm caused by grinding and external contact, and are more comfortable than their counterparts.