For many people, the idea of investing in a mouth guard has never crossed their minds. This is often connected to the common misconception that mouthguards are only necessary for athletes who participate in contact sports where there is an obvious immediate risk of contact and subsequent damage to their mouths, such as boxing, football or martial arts. This misconception can not only put athletes at risk while not wearing a mouthguard but also has led to many non-athletes being unaware of the numerous benefits of having a mouth guard themselves.
For people who participate in sport, both professionally and recreationally, a mouth guard is an essential item. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the use of a mouth guard for sports where you would logically expect it, such as softball, racquetball, field hockey, ice hockey, handball, rugby, wrestling, weightlifting and water polo, as well as sports for which you might not necessarily think you need a mouth guard, such as basketball, cycling, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, acrobatics, skiing, equestrian sports, shot-put, squash, surfing, skydiving, trampoline, tennis, skateboarding, and in-line skating. The California Dental Association (CDA) points out that a mouth guard protects not only your teeth and gums but also helps to prevent fracturing of the jaw and severe damage to the cheeks and tongue (which can often require surgery). Such injuries can lead to life-long consequences, such as an alteration to speech, ongoing pain or scarring, not to mention insecurity about one’s smile and appearance. With the ADA reporting that oral injury is 60 times more likely without a mouth guard, it is easy to see why they are worth the investment.
Non-athletes can also see a multitude of benefits from using a mouthguard. They can help prevent people from grinding their teeth while sleeping, as well as stopping jaw clenching. Some don’t even know they do this when they sleep and suffer the consequences without realizing what is causing them. Problems such as headaches, temporomandibular joint pain, stiff or tense muscles along the jaw and temples, and poor sleeping patterns are just a few of the possible outcomes of sleeping without a mouthguard. Using a mouthguard can not only prevent users from having to deal with this pain and discomfort, but it can also improve your sleeping patterns, make breathing easier and prevent snoring, and protect your teeth from damage. All benefits for good, long-term oral health.
In terms of what mouth guard to buy, there are three types of mouthguards available: stock mouthguards, store-bought mouth-formed guards (boil and bite), and custom-fit mouth guards from your dentist.
When purchasing a stock mouthguard – that is, a mouth guard straight off the shelf – you get exactly what you pay for. These mouth guards are cheap and do not do a great job of actually guarding your mouth. Stock mouthguards are already formed and hard to alter, which means they often do not fit properly to one’s teeth, making them uncomfortable to wear and unreliable when it comes to needing mouth protection. Stock mouthguards can also limit breathing and talking.
Store-bought mouth-formed guards – also known as boil-and-bite mouthguards – are a step up from the stock mouth guards. These mouth guards require you to boil them first, then bite down on the softened mouthguard so it forms to your teeth. These mouth guards offer slightly more protection than the stock mouth guards and tend to fit better than an off-the-shelf type. They also have the advantage of being able to be molded and remolded, should your first attempt at molding the mouth guard not quite work out how you’d hoped.
Ultimately though, a custom-fit mouthguard from your dentist is the safest choice and the type of mouthguard that will provide the most benefits to you. These are made with precision from special material using impressions taken of your teeth, which makes them by far the most comfortable option of the three. This means that you can focus on giving your best in a competitive and recreational sport without getting distracted by the discomfort of gear that doesn’t fit. Because a custom-fit mouthguard is perfectly made for you, it is the best option for ensuring you can breathe properly and speak properly while wearing it. A custom-fit mouthguard is also the most reliable for protecting your mouth; proper fitting and quality material can make the difference between a normal smile and irreversible damage to your teeth, gums or jaw. While more expensive than a stock mouthguard or a store-bought mouth-formed guard, a custom-fit mouthguard from your dentist is a valuable investment. When considering the quality of the product and the positive difference that it makes, a custom-fit mouthguard is relatively inexpensive and can spare you from needing further dental work, which can save you more money in the long run.
Dr. Marc Lazare is an experienced and esteemed dentist with the expertise to produce great results. Take the next step towards protecting your smile and contact Dr. Marc Lazare’s office today to book your initial consultation.