With sports season getting underway, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about mouthguards. Mouthguards are an essential way to protect your teeth and jaws from athletic injuries – they are the best (and cheapest!) dental insurance that you can buy.
Without a mouthguard you are up to 1.9x more likely to sustain an injury to the teeth or lower jaw. These injuries can range from minor lacerations to tooth loss or jaw fracture. This may not only be costly to repair, but could also lead to long-term pain and suffering. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There are two basic types of mouthguard for sports: boil-and-bite types that you make at home, and custom fitted ones that come from a dental office. There are also performance-enhancing custom-fitted mouthguards that are theorized to improve athletic performance by including a resting place for the lower teeth. All mouthguards are made of acrylic, but that’s where the similarity stops.
Boil and bites
Boil-and-bite mouthguards are sold over-the-counter at pharmacies. They are made of a thin sheet of plastic that can be heated and approximated over the tooth surface.
- Cheapest option – may work as a temporary measure for someone having extensive dental work done. However, custom-fitted mouthguards can often be adapted to fit changes to the teeth.
- Least protective – they are made of the thinnest plastic, so they provide the least cushioning for the teeth and jaw bones
- Poor fit – they may provide inadequate coverage in some areas and be too bulky in others. This means they dislodge easily and are less comfortable
- Shortest lifespan – since the material is built to be pliable, it deforms over time. These mouthguards will only last a few months
Our most popular mouth-guards are Pro-Form vacuum-formed sports guards. They are made by taking an impression of the teeth and gums, which allows us to create a completely customized mouthguard to protect the teeth.
- Comfort – exact fit avoids sharp spots and bulky areas
- Protection – they are made of a thicker, more durable plastic that minimizes injury from facial trauma
- Durability – since they don’t deform with heat, they can withstand more wear and tear. Kids who are losing teeth may need a new mouthguard every year, but many adults get many seasons of use from their mouthguards.
- More expensive!
Performance mouthguards include a custom chewing pad at the back to cushion the jaws while clenching. The research isn’t definitive yet, but they work on the premise that allowing the jaw joints to fully relax into their optimal position may reduce cortisol and lactic acid build-up within the body. These are often worn by high-level athletes looking to maximize their performance through many modalities. These are the most expensive option, starting around $400. If you feel a performance mouthguard is right for you, contact our dental office in Kingston Ontario for a consultation.
Have a safe and happy start to sports season! Play safe!