Mouthguards are a covering worn over your teeth and often used to protect teeth from grinding or injury during sports. Common sense dictates that it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports or engage in any activity where you could potentially damage your teeth. However, we don’t always do what we know is in our best interest. Can you picture yourself without front teeth? Maybe if you are an athlete you should think about the benefits of a dentist fitted mouthguard.
Why Should I Wear A Mouthguard?
One of the most important functions of mouthguards are to keep your teeth from breaking. If a baseball hits you hard right in the mouth and you’re not wearing a mouthguard, it could break your tooth. For kids, sports injuries account for almost 40% of dental trauma. If you have braces or your child is an orthodontic patient, the trauma from a sports injury can damage not only teeth, but the sensitive tissue inside the mouth. In addition to team sports, things can still get physical even during casual and non-competitive team sports or intramural activities. A direct impact to the front of your face with no mouthguard can fracture your front teeth, or even knock one or more of them out. A hit to your lower jaw can slam your jaws together, not only putting a huge amount of stress on your teeth, which can cause cracks and breaks, but it can also cause jaw fractures, damage to your TMJ joint, and can also result in a concussion.
Mouthguards Are Like Airbags
They serve to absorb the shock of impact and diffuse the pressure around the material of the mouthguard, instead of your teeth and jaws. By absorbing and dissipating, mouthguards can drastically reduce the chances of incurring an injury such as a knocked out front tooth or a concussion. Mouthguards also protect against jaw fractures. When you sustain a blow to the head and your teeth contact each other, there’s not much room for flexibility. But, if you have a layer of flexible plastic between your teeth, it can act as padding and save your jaw from fracturing.
PROS: Ready made mouthguards are typically very inexpensive, usually $10 or less and can be purchased at any sporting goods store. That means they are relatively cheap to replace if you lose it. Using this type of mouthguard is better than not using any mouthguard.
CONS: As a one-size-fits-all item, “fits” is a relative term. They are foamy and bulky mouthguards. They may work to diffuse some of the impact of a hit, but only if you want to wear it. They are not fitted to your mouth, and is likely to fall out or come loose when you run or are active. They are hard to speak and breathe around and need to be replaced more often.
Mouth-Formed (Boil and Bite) Mouthguards
PROS: The chances of this type of mouthguard falling out when you are running or active is less than a ready-made one. These are, by far, the most common mouthguards we see and are still affordable at around $15-20. These are fitted to your teeth by placing the mouthguard in very hot water and then biting into it firmly. Since it fits better than the ready made mouthguard, you will wear it more and it could protect you from tooth trauma or concussion.
CONS: Boil and bite mouthguards are still bulky and can be hard to breathe around or speak while wearing. Because of that, you are more likely to take it out and misplace it. Boil and bite mouthguards will need to be replaced more often than a custom fitted mouthguard. Finally, although they are fitted better because of the teeth impressions, there is still a greater chance that it can come loose, reducing its effectiveness. So if the mouth guard is on the ground, it means you could end up out $20 AND missing your front teeth.
Custom Dentist Fitted Mouthguards
PROS: These are individually designed and made in your dentist’s office or in a professional dental laboratory. Not surprisingly, they are likely to provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and then constructs the mouthguard over a model of them. Because they fit and feel better, most athletes prefer customized mouth guards. However, they are also the most expensive. Custom-fitted mouthguards are the best option when it comes to protection against trauma and concussion. In fact, a study confirmed that custom-fitted mouthguards can reduce your chances of concussion by more than 50%. Generally, mouthguards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.
CONS: Custom fitted mouthguards can take up to 2 weeks to receive and is the most expensive option.
We are here to help with all your dental needs. No matter what, we are here to make sure you have the best information and options available to take action and feel comfortable and confident in your smile.
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About Tri-State Family Dentistry
Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.