A mouthguard, properly fitted, should be worn during any contact sport or activities where there is risk of an injury to the face e.g. footy, hockey, volleyball, soccer etc. Without a mouthguard, sports injuries and accidents can result in damage and injury to the gum, lips or teeth, tooth fractures, avulsed teeth or jaw fractures.
Significant trauma to permanent (adult) teeth is also common with falls from skateboards, roller-blades, trampolines or scooters.
Types of mouthguards:
- Custom-fitted – constructed and fitted to the shape of your mouth by a dental professional. These mouthguards have been proven to reduce the number and severity of mouth injuries in sport and during training.
- Boil-and-bite – once the lining is softened in boiling water, the person bites on the mouthguard to help it take the shape of their mouth. The process of biting down onto the softened lining can decrease the guard thickness and therefore its effectiveness. These mouthguards can be uncomfortable to wear.
- Ready-made – these are ready-to-wear mouthguards available over the counter at sports shops and pharmacies. While these are the cheapest mouthguard, they also offer the least amount of protection. They are bulky and hard to keep in the mouth due to their poor fit.
Custom made mouthguards
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends custom-fitted mouthguards, as these provide the most effective protection.
A custom made mouthguard should:
- Fit snugly and be comfortable
- Allow normal breathing and swallowing
- Allow the wearer to speak
- Be odourless and tasteless
- Be thick enough (4mm) to provide protection against impact.
Caring for your mouthguard
- Take the mouthguard along to your dental visits to ensure it still fits correctly. A mouthguard may need to be replaced as changes occur in your mouth, such as the eruption of permanent teeth or restorations.
- Mouthguards need to be rinsed in cold water before use. After use, dry and store in a plastic container with air vents to allow the air to circulate.
- Once in a while, clean it with soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
- Mouthguards should be kept in a cool place as they can distort if left in the sun or hot water.
Remember: Mouthguards should be worn during training sessions and match play if there is a risk of contact with another person or object including balls, bats, sticks or racquets.