An often overlooked safety tool/device in sports and recreational activities is a custom-fitted mouthguard. Unfortunately, many of us realize the benefits of a mouthguard after injury has taken place instead of before. The purpose of a mouthguard is to protect the teeth and jaw during impact. A properly fit mouthguard will do this and more. Highlighted below are 5 benefits of custom-fitted mouthguards from Hoffman Estates dental clinic, Forest Edge Dental.
Mouthguards are not a one size fits all. Our teeth, jaw, and mouth vary in size and shape from person to person. Sporting goods and department stores often carry pre-formed or mouth-formed guards. The poorest fit will come from pre-formed guards. These require the mouth to be closed to hold them in place making breathing and talking difficult. Mouth-formed or often known as “boil-and-bite” mouthguards will fit a bit better with less bulk. However, they will not form to the teeth as tightly and comfortably as a custom-fitted mouthguard.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed with your dental history in mind along with the specific sport you are playing. This means any braces or appliances you have will be protected as well. To make a custom-fitted mouthguard your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. The cast of your impression makes a near perfect model of your mouth and is sent to a dental lab where your mouthguard will be constructed. The dental lab will mold the mouthguard material of choice around the cast, getting in all nooks necessary for a proper fit. Once the mouthguard is ready, your dentist will inspect the mouthguard and make sure you are satisfied with the fit.
Since your mouthguard is made from a direct impression of your mouth there isn’t any unwanted or unnecessary bulky material left over. The mouthguard should stay put in your mouth without having to keep your mouth closed. This makes breathing, talking and swallowing much easier.
Because custom fit mouthguards are more comfortable than non-custom ones they are more likely to be worn. For children, we find comfort to be of even more importance. Less taking it out during practice, complaining it hurts and “forgetting” to wear it. Introducing custom-fit mouthguards to children when they are young, increases the chances they will continue wearing them into adulthood.
A custom-fitted mouthguard from Forest Edge Dental, will cover and protect all of your teeth. If impact takes place, this mouthguard will absorb the shock and distribute the impact properly. According to the International Academy of Sports Dentistry; a properly fabricated mouthguard “separates the mandible (lower jaw) and maxilla (upper jaw), thereby buffering the transmission of concussive effect to the base of the brain”. As concussions continue to rise in young athletes, properly fit mouthguards are an intelligent preventative measure for anyone to add to contact sports.
Custom-fitted dental mouthguards also provide protection to any appliances you have in your mouth. Braces, retainers, implant-supported dentures, etc. which can be costly to repair.
As an athlete, it is best to explain to your dentist exactly what activities the mouthguard will be used for. Heavy contact sports such as boxing, hockey and football will require the appropriate thickness to handle the impact. Low contact sports such as tennis and racquetball can be thinner. Impact is much less likely to occur and at much less severity in these sports.
As with most dentistry, prevention is key. Being pro-active and wearing a mouthguard before an injury takes place can save you in costly dental reconstructive services down the road. While your cheapest option of a mouthguard will be a pre-formed or bite-and-boil one from the drug store, you will also get cheap coverage and comfort. The cost of knocked out teeth, stitches from braces going through the lip or even worse trauma is far more expensive than a custom-fitted mouthguard. Protecting costly dental work you have already had done such as porcelain veneers or dental implants is a great idea as well.