Do I need to get a Sport Mouth Guard?
Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or just a participant in recreational sport activities, a mouth guard is a must have. Mouth guards are intended to protect not only the teeth and gums, but also your lips, cheeks, tongue, neck, brain, mandible (the lower jaw), and the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ). Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend mouth guard use for anyone who engages in sports such as football, softball, racquetball, in-line skating, skateboarding, martial arts, boxing, acrobatics, cycling, equestrian sports, field hockey, ice hockey, handball gymnastics, lacrosse, motor cross, rugby, skiing, shot-put, skydiving, squash, surfing, trampoline, tennis, wrestling, weightlifting and water polo which all run the risk of mouth injuries.
There several different types of mouth guards, each differing in price and quality. Stock mouth guards are a preformed, U-shape piece of rubber or vinyl that you hold between your teeth. It is inexpensive (and for a very good reason), as the fit is so poor that they are usually not recommended. Mouth-formed mouth guards are available at sporting good stores (as are the stock mouth guards), and they are a step up in quality. There are two types of mouth-formed guards: the boil and bite and the shell-liner. Boil and bite mouth guards are made from a re-formable polymer material that you mold to your mouth by softening the guards in boiling water and then forming it in your mouth. The advantage of this type of guard is that it can be reformed. A shell-liner mouth guard is made by using a stock tray and a resilient liner material, which you bite into and wait for the material to harden. Unlike the boil and bite, you only have one chance to make it fit. The last class of mouth guards, and certainly the best, are the custom-fit mouth guards that are made by your dentist, impressions will be taken of your mouth, so that they can be made to fit precisely and comfortable. Quality mouth guards are relatively inexpensive, and can prevent injury and the need for costly dental restorative treatments. Naturally, the better quality the mouth guard, the more supportive it will be and the lower the risk of injury. However, the greatest risk of all is to not be wearing a mouth guard.