Summer sport season is upon us, bringing a host of activities that can present significant dangers to the teeth and jaw. We previously wrote about common summer sports and activities that should be accompanied by the use of a mouthguard. Here is a follow-up with information about the types of mouthguards that are available, as well as the amount of protection each type provides.
Stock/Off-The-Shelf Mouth Guards
Off-the-shelf mouth protectors are cheap and readily available, making them a popular choice. Unfortunately, their lack of proper fit and extra bulk results in these guards providing little protection to the wearer, in addition to impairing breathing. In short, avoid these mouth guards and choose something better and more protective.
“Boil and Bite” Mouth Guards
Boil-n-bite mouth protectors are available at most sporting goods stores and offer better fit and increased protection over stock guards. These guards are made of a special plastic that softens when immersed in hot water. Once soft, the wearer can shape the mouth guard to fit their mouth, making for a more personalized fit.
Custom Mouth Guards
Custom mouth guards are made in a laboratory based on an actual impression of your teeth. The wearer first visits their dentist to have a custom mold made. The dentist then sends this mold in to have a custom guard made out of the highest quality specialty materials. Because of the time and special equipment involved in this process, custom guards are the most expensive option. They do, however, provide the highest level of comfort and protection.
Regardless of the type of mouth guard you choose, a mouth protector should be worn by anyone participating in contact sports, or other extreme sports that present an increased risk of tooth damage. If you have questions about whether or not you should wear a mouth guard and which type is best for you, ask your dentist for a personalized recommendation.