A mouthguard is a specially made, rubber-like cover, which fits exactly over your teeth and gums, cushioning them and protecting them from damage. Mouthguards are used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.
When would I need a mouthguard ?
Mouth guards should be used by anyone (children, adults) who play contact sports (such as football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball etc.) or any recreational activity (for example, skateboarding, mountain biking) that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth.
If you grind your teeth at night (for example in a condition called bruxism), a special mouth guard may be created to prevent tooth damage.
Why use a mouthguard when playing sports ?
During any physical activity, various accidents may happen. The advantage of using a mouthguard is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouth guards also help avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.
What types of mouthguards are available ?
There are three types of mouthguards:
Stock mouthguards are preformed and come ready to wear. Generally, they can be bought at sporting good stores and department stores.
The problem with stock mouthguards is that they fit badly and are uncomfortable to wear. They can even make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little protection.
Home kits mouthguards
These types are made from thermoplastic material and offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors.
The material is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth until it sets.
Custom made mouthguards
Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory. First, the dentist will make an impression of the teeth, and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material.
A custom-made mouthguard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.
Generally, mouthguards cover upper teeth only, but in some instances, the dentist can make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.
How long do mouthguards last ?
Where children are concerned, new teeth will come through and move into position. Consequently, the mouthguard may become too tight or loose, and will need to be remade to fit the new shape of the mouth.
Adults may not need to have their mouthguards replaced so often. Even so, mouthguards will suffer from wear and tear. It is advisable to ask your dentist to check the condition of your mouthguard at regular intervals. If you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it.
Last review and update: November 2020