A mouthguard is a specially made, rubber-like cover, which fits exactly over your teeth and gums, cushioning them and protecting them from damage.
Anyone who participates in a sport that carries a risk of contact to the face should wear a mouthguard. This includes obvious sports such as football, boxing, GAA and rugby, and also collision sports where unexpected contact often happens. These include basketball, hockey, netball, squash, soccer, BMX bike riding, horse riding, skateboarding, skating, trampolining, cricket (if not wearing a helmet), and snow ski racing.
A mouthguard helps absorb the shock experienced by a blow to the face, which might otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw. A heavy collision can result in chipped or broken teeth, internal damage to a tooth, tooth loss, injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth, and, in severe cases, concussion or a broken jaw. Injuries like these can lead to long and potentially expensive treatment to restore teeth and the mouth back to normal function and appearance.
Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard while participating in sport is vitally important to help prevent dental injuries. There are many types of mouthguards, from over the-counter products to the professionally fitted custom guard. Self-fitted, over-the-counter mouthguards are inadequate. For effective protection, a professionally fitted custom mouthguard is essential. The lifetime cost of a dental injury justifies the expense of good protection to prevent the injury in the first place.
A custom fitted mouthguard is made by a dentist using an impression taken of your teeth, and a plaster model. Custom fitting allows the dentist to accurately assess your mouth and provide the best fit, size, coverage and thickness in a mouthguard made especially for you. The dentist can also make an assessment of any risk factors you might have and recommend the best type of mouthguard appropriate for your sport. Custom-fitted mouthguards are comfortable, allow you to talk, have maximum resistance against being dislodged and should not restrict breathing.
These mouthguards are cheaper than custom-fitted mouthguards. These include stock mouthguards that have no fitting at all, and boil and bite mouthguards that are self fitted by softening them in hot water, inserting them in the mouth and allowing them to adapt to the shape of the mouth as they cool and set. brunswick Dental Practice do not recommend over the counter boil and bite mouthguards. They are poorly fitting and less comfortable to wear because they have not been specifically fitted to the shape of your mouth and teeth. This greatly lessens their effectiveness and can increase the risk of damage to teeth.
A boil and bite mouthguard may be a short-term choice if there is absolutely no alternative available, but even with careful attention to the directions, the best result is a poorly fitting mouthguard that offers inadequate protection. Some studies place their degree of protection only slightly better than wearing no mouthguard at all.
Your dentist should review your mouthguard every 12 months to ensure it fits correctly. Sometimes, a mouthguard needs to be replaced if major changes occur to the teeth, like restorations or adult teeth coming through.
Mouthguards need to be rinsed in cold water after use, dried and stored in a plastic container. Mouthguards can distort under higher temperatures, so they should be kept in a cool place. It is important to wear a professionally made mouthguard whenever you play sport that involves physical contact or moving objects. This includes: cricket, hockey and football - which can cause broken and damaged teeth; and boxing and rugby - which can all cause broken or dislocated jaws. A mouthguard will help protect against these events.
Your dentist will be happy to make you a custom-made mouthguard, which will fit your mouth exactly and protect your teeth and gums properly. Custom-made mouthguards can prevent damage to the jaw, neck and even the brain - helping to prevent the concussion and damage caused by a heavy blow.
Depending on your age, your mouthguard may need replacing fairly regularly. If you are still growing, new teeth will come through and move into position. So the mouthguard may become too tight or loose, and will need to be remade to fit the new shape of your mouth. Adults may not need to have their mouthguards replaced quite so often. But they are like any other form of sports equipment and will suffer from wear and tear. It is recommended that you take your mouthguard along to the dentist when you go for your check-up, so it can be checked.
There are many types of mouthguard including striped, multi-coloured and clear. Many people now have coloured mouthguards made in their favourite team’s colours or to match their own sports strip.