A mouthguard is essential equipment for playing many of the most popular sports. Prices and quality vary widely, from generic versions sold at sporting goods stores to custom-fitted products from a family dentistry clinic. It’s important to choose wisely, since the mouthguard plays a vital role in protecting the wearer’s teeth and gums.
The Three Types of Mouthguards
Mouthguards fall into three general classes:
- “Boil and bite” products. These types become pliable when immersed in hot water. The wearer bites down on the product while it’s still warm, causing it to conform to the contours of his or her mouth.
- So-called “instant fit” mouthguards. These products are supposed to fit the user’s mouth right out of the package. However, they still require immersion in boiling water for sterilization purposes.
- Custom mouthguards from a local dentist. These are designed to fit the wearer with hand-in-glove comfort. They can also be crafted with custom designs to give them a truly personalized look.
What to Consider When Choosing a Mouthguard
As you can see, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to mouthguards. Choosing the right one for your young athlete depends on many factors. These include:
- The type of sport. For example, football mouthguards should have an integrated lip guard to protect against blunt force impacts. On the other hand, mouth guards for basketball players should allow the wearer to communicate clearly with other players, since scoring a basket often comes down to inter-player communication.
- This is where the advantages of a custom-made guard become apparent. A mouthguard is useless unless the player actually wears it. Look for a product that fits the person’s oral profile, including the width of his or her mouth.
- A mouthguard goes through a lot of heavy-duty use. A product that’s not only comfortable but durable is more likely to stand up to the rigors that come with sports participation.
Special Considerations for People with Braces
Braces are a rite of passage for many young people. They’re essential for correcting teeth misalignment problems. But they also require a little extra thought when choosing a mouthguard. Braces are not only expensive, they require the wearer to brush, floss, and perform other daily activities in special ways.
For these reasons, it’s important to trust your dentist or orthodontist to create a customized mouthguard for the patient, rather than relying on over-the-counter products. Your dental professional will perform a series of precise measurements and send this information to the lab that will create the actual mouthguard.
When it arrives a few days later, the wearer will have the chance to try the mouthguard for fit and comfort. Your dental professional may perform some minor adjustments to ensure the best possible results.
Mouthguards are an essential item for many activities. Choosing the right one means doing a little research and comparing your options. But the benefits make the effort more than worthwhile. Your young athlete will enjoy the sport more, and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing that your child is protected by a top-quality product.
About the Author
Dr. Richard Cea has been providing top-quality dental services to the people of Colorado Springs for nearly 20 years. A graduate of Marquette University, he’s a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Colorado State Dental Society. You can reach his office online or by calling (719) 637-1772.