Mouthguards are protective coverings that are worn to protect your teeth from injury. They are often worn during contact sports such as football, hockey, or boxing, but they should also be worn during non-contact sports such as gymnastics and skateboarding.
A mouthguard should be worn whenever there is the possibility of a dental injury, even by adults who have a tendency to grind their teeth in their sleep. Most mouthguards are designed only to cover your upper teeth, but dentists can provide mouthguards that cover your lower teeth as well if you wear braces or some other orthodontic gear that needs to be protected.
Most mouthguards fall into one of three categories, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist is always looking out for your teeth – so its likely your dentist will recommend a custom mouthguard, but let’s go over the basics of each type of mouthguard available.
Stock mouthguards are ready to use right out of the package. They are inexpensive and available at practically any sporting goods store, but not much can be done to adjust their fit. Unless you get extremely lucky, you’re likely to end up with an overly-bulky mouthguard that makes breathing and talking difficult. Most dentists do not recommend this type of mouthguard, so go with this one only if you have no other options available.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards
Boil and bite mouthguards are similar to stock mouthguards in that they can be bought at any sporting goods store, but they offer a little more protection and should be your first choice if you can’t get a custom-fitted mouthguard. These mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that softens when boiled in water. Once the mouthguard has been softened, it can be shaped around your teeth when pressure is applied to provide a better fit than stock mouthguards.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are custom-made by your dentist or in a lab according to your dentist’s instructions. A custom-fitted mouthguard is made from a special material that is molded from an impression of your teeth. This type of mouthguard is more expensive than the other types available, and they do take some time to be made, but they also offer the most protection and comfort.
You’ll find custom fit mouthguards are generally worth the extra cost, because they are
- Best protection available
- Extremely durable
- Can both protect teeth and alleviate jaw tension