Maybe you’re an athlete playing sports at a high level, or weekend warrior for your beer-league team, or maybe you just have kids who are carrying the sportsperson torch for you. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you play sports, a mouthguard should be a big consideration before the next time you step onto the playing surface.
What is a sports mouthguard?
Mouthguards are a straight forward device that’s meant to protect your teeth from damage. They are inserted over the top row of teeth help prevent oral injuries. These include chipped, broken or knocked out teeth, lacerations to the gums and other trauma to the mouth area. Sometimes a mouthguard is worn over the lower teeth as well, especially if a dental appliance like braces, a bridge or implants are present. A mouthguard will also help protect against concussion because it softens the teeth-on-teeth impact often associated with impact to the head or upper body area. Generally, any activity that might involve a fall, flying equipment or body contact should require a mouthguard. This means sports like soccer, hocky, baseball, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, biking, skateboarding and many more. If there is a risk of impact – where a mouthguard to be safer.
Different styles of mouthguard
There are three typical types of mouthguards that are readily available to athletes. It’s a good idea to let your dentist or orthodontist help determine which is best for your needs and for your mouth. Every mouthguard should be comfortable to wear and include are tear and mold resistant materials. It should also not restrict your breathing and allows you to speak almost as if you weren’t wearing it at all.
Stock or in-store mouthguards
A stock mouthguard is the most basic and also most affordable type. These come pre-formed and are ready to wear straight away. Fit can sometimes be a bit of an issue but they will do the job of protecting your teeth. It’s usually recommended to get something that’s custom fit to your teeth but if you wont be wearing it often or you’re in a pinch and need something straight – a stock mouthguard will do the trick.
Heat & bite mouthguards
Most sports stores will carry this type of mouthguard alongside the cheaper stock style. The shape of the guard will be preformed but can be altered to fit your teeth. To do this the mouthguard must be boiled in water until soft, at which point the athlete will insert and bite down on the guard to have it form and harden into the correct shape. This is the most common type of mouthguard because it’s a good compromise between cost, , convenience, comfort and protection.
Made by your dental or orthodontic professional, these custom fit mouthguards are specifically designed to fit your athlete’s mouth. The process is more time consuming, but the end result is the highest grade you can get. You’ll need to make an appointment with your dentist to have an impression of your teeth taken, then that impression is used to create the mouthguard (often at an offsite laboratory). These are the most expensive type of mouthguard but will offer the best fitting and most comfortable protection you can achieve.
Do I need to replace my mouthguard regularly?
Due to the wear and tear placed on the mouthguard during physical exertion they do tend to wear down rather quickly. If you notice deterioration or the fit is starting to become loose, it might be a good idea to get a replacement. It’s not uncommon to require a new mouthguard for every season. This is especially true for younger athletes who often quickly outgrow the mouthguard.
If you’re unsure if yours needs replacing, consult your dentist because if you’re involved in a contact sport – a mouthguard is a vital piece of equipment that you should be wearing.
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