Mouthguard : What is it?
Mouthguards are soft, molded devices worn in the mouth to prevent orofacial injuries. Orofacial injuries are injuries to the head, face, and mouth such as fractured jaws, contusions, andavulsions, which are caused by sustaining punches and blows to the head.
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc., the most sustained sports orofacial injuries are dental injuries. When worn properly on the upper jaw, mouthguards can prevent as many as 200,000 collegiate and high school football orofacial injuries, as claimed by the American Dental Association.
Kinds of Mouthguards include the following:
- Stock mouthguards are the most basic types.
- They are sold in small, medium, and large sizes.
- They are usually not long enough to protect the back teeth.
- Because of their standard sizes, they usually fit loosely in the mouth, making them difficult to wear extensively.
- They are ideal for everyday practice use.
Boil and bite mouthguards
- Boil and bite mouthguards are made of thermoplastic. They are boiled until pliable before users bite down on them to get the correct fit.
- The shock absorbent material they are made of can absorb blows to the face and mouth, protecting the teeth and preventing jaw fractures, concussions, and other related injuries.
- They are longer than stock mouthguards, offering protection to the back teeth.
- They have orthodontic grooves for users with braces.
- They can be attached to helmets using facemask clips.
- They also come in double piece types.
- Custom mouthguards are designed by an athlete’s dentist.
- They are made by fitting an impression tray to the user's mouth to get the exact mouth and teeth shape. This mold determines the mouthguard’s fit.
- They provide excellent fit compared to stock and boil and bit types.
- They also come in pressure laminated and vacuum types.
|Fit: Choose a mouthguard that fits your mouth correctly and provides protection to your back teeth. An ill-fitting mouthguard can cause injury to the jaw and mouth especially if you get hit in the face. |
Trimming capability: If you want to custom fit your mouthguard, look for one with a trim guide that tells you the safe areas that you can cut off to get the best fit.
Use: If you occasionally engage in contact sports, choose a stock mouthguard. It is inexpensive, and it can offer you enough protection. For a better fit, consider getting a boil and bite mouthguard.
Customization: If you are a serious boxing or football athlete, choose a customized mouthguard to give you the best fit. It is made to fit the exact shape of your mouth and teeth. Consult with your dentist about the procedure and the available customization options for you.
Orthodontic grooves: If you wear braces on your upper teeth, get a mouthguard with orthodontic grooves. This type of mouthguard has indentations that fit over your brace brackets that allow for a customized fit.
Stabilization tabs: Choose a mouthguard with a stabilization tab to keep your mouthguard in place if you take a punch or blow to the head. This feature prevents you from having to adjust your mouthguard with your hand during a crucial match.
Speech interference: Choose a mouthguard that does not interfere with your speech. Stock mouthguards usually cause speech interference. Athletes who wear them tend to clench their jaws to keep the mouthguards in place.
Side impact shields: Choose a mouthguard with side impact shields to protect the sides of your face. This feature protects your gums and side teeth from injury when you get punched or hit on the cheek.
Impact strips: To keep your lower teeth on the underside of your mouthguard, choose one with impact strips. This feature can also lower your risk of getting a concussion.
Thickness: For a balance between protection and bulkiness, choose a mouthguard with an approximate three-millimeter occlussal thickness, two-millimeter palatal thickness, and three millimeter labial thickness. Consult with your dentist to know how thick your mouthguard should be.