If you or your child play winter sports, then you need to invest in a quality mouthguard. All Houston dentists will tell you that mouthguards are a must-have for athletes – especially those playing contact sports. Did you know that more than 200,000 dental injuries are prevented each year from wearing a mouthguard? Dentalcare reports, “75% of all orofacial injuries occurred when the athlete refrained from using mouthguard protection.”
Basketball and baseball players received the most sports-related oral injuries – two sports where mouthguards are not mandated. Here’s the thing – even if your coach does not require mouthguards, your Houston dentist does. The entire purpose of a mouthguard is to protect your teeth! It just makes sense to wear one when you are participating in a sport where a dental injury may occur.
Mouth Healthy explains, “Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.”
If you are unsure whether you need a mouthguard or how to buy one, you’ve come to the right place. We’re covering all you need to know about mouthguards.
Who Needs to Wear a Mouthguard?
If you play a sport, you need to wear a mouthguard. Period. Sadly, there are only five sports where mouthguards are required: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, and wrestling. For contact sports, mouthguards are a must-have item. But, as Mouth Healthy explains, “While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, any athlete may experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.”
The Different Types of Mouthguards
There are three different types of mouthguards available for sports players.
- Stock mouth protectors – Stock mouth protectors are ones that are already in stock. These are pre-formed and are ready to wear. They tend to be sold in sporting goods stores and are generally inexpensive. However, because they are pre-formed and cannot be adjusted to fit, Houston dentists do not recommend stock mouth protectors unless that is all you can find or afford.
- Boil and bite mouth protectors – Unlike the stock mouth protectors, boil and bite mouth protectors are designed to fit an individual’s bite. They are made from thermoplastic material, which allows the mouthguard to be reshaped. Athletes simply place the mouth protector in hot or boiling water to soften it, then place it in their mouth and shape it to fit their teeth and gums correctly.
- Custom-fitted mouth protectors – As the name suggests, custom-fitted mouth protectors are custom-made for each individual. They are made in a Houston dentist office or at a lab according to the dentist’s instructions. According to WebMD, “First, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouthguard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.”
Typically, you only need a mouthguard for your upper teeth, but your Houston dentist may recommend one for your lower teeth, such as if you have braces.
How to Choose the Right Mouthguard
Once you decide on the type of mouthguard you want to own, you need to know how to choose the right mouthguard for your mouth. Here are some tips for choosing the right mouthguard.
- Make sure the mouthguard is comfortable to wear. Can you breathe while wearing it? Can you speak easily with it in your mouth?
- Make sure it fits. Your mouthguard should fit without you having to clench your teeth to keep it in.
- Make sure it provides the right amount of coverage. Makura Sport explains, “Your mouthguard should end somewhere between your first and second molar and should cover all of your teeth (back molars excluded) and some of your gum. If it overwhelms your upper jaw, extends too far back, or comes into too much contact with your soft palate, it will be uncomfortable and cause you to gag.”
- Make sure the mouthguard is made of safe materials and doesn’t contain BPA.
- Make sure your mouthguard is strong enough for the type of sport you play. For example, MMA fighters may need a stronger, thicker mouthguard as compared to a soccer player.
- Make sure it fits with your other sports gear. For example, if you wear a helmet, you want to find a mouthguard that is compatible and can be attached to a helmet strap.
Mouthguards and Braces
Mouthguards and braces go together. Some people mistakenly believe they cannot wear a mouthguard if they have braces. If you have braces, you actually need to wear a mouthguard more than the rest of the population. WebMD explains, “Since an injury to the face could damage braces or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard may be particularly important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work.” However, you can’t just purchase any old mouthguard. You need to specifically find one that works with your braces. Ask your Houston orthodontist for recommendations.
Care and Cleaning Tips for Mouthguards
Lastly, it is important to know how to take care of your mouthguard. You need to rinse your mouthguard before and after each time you wear it. Additionally, you should clean it using a toothbrush regularly. Be sure to store it in the case it came in or in a storage container with vents or holes (this will also protect it from becoming your dog’s new chew toy). Keep your mouthguard away from direct sunlight and high temperatures because they can distort the shape and fit. Check your mouthguard regularly for damage or signs of wear.
Mouthguard questions? Contact Greenspoint Dental today!