Mouth guards or sports guards are devices worn on the teeth to protect them from potential impact when engaging in contact sports such as football, boxing, hockey, basketball and soccer, to name a few. They are often made of rubber or any pliant material that can absorb the force of a blow in the face or head.
Mouth guards protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to the mouth. Aside from athletes, others who may be recommended by dentists to wear mouth guards are orthodontic patients who wear braces or other non-removable dental appliance.
There are various types of mouth guards, but the key attribute they should have it that they should be resistant to tear, resilient and comfortable to wear. They should also fit well and not hamper breathing or speaking.
Stock mouth guards. This type of dental protection appliances is among the most common. Over 90% of the mouth guards worn are bought at sporting goods stores. They are inexpensive and come pre-formed and ready to wear. However, because they mass-produced, they are made in teeth and jaw profiles that fit most wearers. Therefore, they often don't fit very well. They can also be bulky and hamper normal breathing and talking.
Boil and bite mouth guards. This type of mouth guard comes in a pre-formed shape. By boiling it in water and biting into the still-pliant plastic, wearers can alter its shape for a custom fit. This item can be bought in any sporting goods store and provides relatively better protection than stock mouth guards.
Custom-made. Each person has his or her distinct mouth and jaw profile and custom-made mouth guards provide the best protection and comfort because they are made at the dentist's office to fit an individual patient. A custom-made mouth guard is more elaborately fabricated compared to other types. They are made by a dentist who takes an impression of the teeth and jaw before constructing an actual mouth guard. Athletes prefer custom-made mouth guards due to the obvious advantage in providing safety. However, because of the tailor-fit nature of such dental appliance, they are understandably more expensive to produce.
Length of use
Because they can wear down over time, mouth guards ideally should be replaced after each season. It is important that adolescent patients replace their mouth guards regularly because their mouths continue to grow and teeth continue to develop into adulthood. Athletes who are engaged in several sports have new mouth guards made whenever they go for their six-month dental checkup.