Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

A Guide to Sports Mouthguards

by Brett Clark

Dental injuries are common in most contact games. A sports mouthguard is a device which an athlete puts in his or her mouth to reduce injuries to the lips, gums and teeth. Sports mouthguards are common in basketball, boxing, rugby, football, ice hockey, martial arts and other sports where players have a high risk of getting dental injuries. The use of mouthguards in sports originated in boxing. Previously, boxers clenched pieces of wood or cotton in their teeth to prevent mouth injuries. The invention of the mouthguard and its subsequent effectiveness led to its increased use in boxing and other sports. 

Below are the various types of sports mouthguards that are available today.

Custom-fitted mouthguards

Custom-fitted mouthguards are made from an actual impression of one's teeth. From this impression, the dentist creates a mouthguard that is a perfect fit for the client's mouth. These are the best types of mouthguards, as they are very comfortable to wear and have a greater ability to absorb shock. However, they are more expensive than other kinds of mouthguards.

Stock mouthguards

These mouthguards are made from polyvinyl or rubber and are sold over the counter in sports stores or drug stores. Although they are cheap, they are very uncomfortable and bulky. They often make talking, breathing and swallowing difficult. 

Boil-and-bite mouthguards

These type of mouthguards are made from thermoplastic material. To use a boil-and-bite mouthguard, you place it in boiling water to soften the plastic. The mouthguard is then inserted into the mouth, where it molds itself to fit. The main advantage is that if it doesn't fit, it can be reheated and remolded. These mouthguards are cheaper than custom-fitted mouthguards, but one has to ensure that the mouthguard is well molded for it to work. 

Sports mouthguard maintenance tips

  1. The mouthguard should be cleaned after use, as food particles and dirt may find their way into the mouthguard. Use a soft toothbrush and soap to clean the mouthguard. Do not use hot water during cleaning.
  2. The mouthguard should be stored away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place.
  3. Mouthguards are not to be shared, as this would spread dental diseases. 
  4. The mouthguard should not be chewed, since this affects its fit. As a result, it becomes less effective.
  5. The mouthguard should be replaced when it becomes thin or wears out.

Sports mouthguards are an effective way to protect athletes from mouth injuries.