With fall sports on our minds, it’s a good time to talk about the best ways to protect your mouth. If you or your kids are planning to play football, basketball, hockey, soccer, or any other sport this fall, one of the most important pieces of safety equipment to invest in is a mouthguard. Learn more about what mouthguards are and how they can keep your smile safe.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a protective device worn inside your mouth to prevent or reduce injury to the teeth, lips and gums. They are typically made of soft plastic and adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of your upper teeth. Research shows the overall risk of orofacial injury is nearly double when mouthguards are not worn.
When should you wear a mouthguard?
On their MouthHealthy.org website, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that mouthguards be an essential part of sporting equipment. While many consider high-contact sports like football and basketball to put you most at risk, dental injuries can also occur in no-contact sports, including gymnastics.
What kinds of mouthguards are there?
The ADA describes three different kinds of mouthguards:
Stock or ready-made: These mouthguards can be found in many grocery and drug stores and are ready to wear out of the box. They are the least expensive option; however, they often do not fit very well, and can sometimes make breathing and speaking difficult.
Boil-and-bite: Also available in stores, boil-and-bite mouthguards usually fit better than the stock versions. Before using, you soften the guard material by boiling it, then “bite” into it, allowing the material to mold around your teeth and gums.
Custom-made: A custom-made mouthguard is made just for you by your dentist. For many people, this option offers the best and most comfortable fit. When your dentist makes your mouthguard, he or she can also tailor it to the needs of the individual athlete and their sport.
Remember, any mouthguard protects better than no mouthguard! If you or your child plays fall sports, a mouthguard is an important piece of equipment that will prevent injury to teeth and gums. Choose one that is comfortable to wear, otherwise it may be left in the locker room. Talk to your dentist if you’re interested in having a customized mouthguard made just for you!