Check out your smile in the mirror. Now, think about what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Many things would be affected: smiling, talking and eating to name a few.
Mouthguards, also known as mouth protectors, can help save your teeth by minimizing the damage done during a blow to the face. They protect the teeth, lips, tongue, face and jaw. A mouthguard usually covers the upper teeth and can also protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheeks lining. Preventing these sorts of injuries is very important to those who participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.
You can think about a mouthguard being an important piece of athletic gear and include it as part of your standard equipment from the start. Research shows that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer broken or damaged teeth when they aren’t wearing a mouthguard. We often think about collision and contact sports like boxing and football being higher-risk sports, but you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.
You have 3 choices when you’re deciding on a mouthguard:
- Custom-fitted. These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.
- Stock. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite. These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-fitted mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore. If you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries.
Talk to your Bearable Dentistry dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the best protection. Although mouthguards typically only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth too.
If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.