Sports are a huge part of life today. Watch any football game or other sport, and the variety of mouthguards you’ll see is impressive. From clear generic guards to designer versions, it’s hard to find a pro athlete not wearing one.
Key Reasons to Wear One
Any dentist will tell you the same thing—mouthguards prevent a variety of injuries to your mouth beyond the loosening and knocking out of teeth. These include:
- Participating in athletic and recreational activities, particularly collision, contact, or high-velocity sports, can place individuals at increased risk of dental trauma or orofacial injury.
- Mouthguard use is proven to reduce the risk of sports-related dental injuries.
- The ADA recommends wearing a properly fitted mouthguard to reduce the incidence and severity of oral injury in sporting or recreational activities, particularly activities with a significant risk of dental trauma or orofacial injury.
- Mouthguards should have adequate retention to provide a resilient, protective surface on the dental arch that is at the highest risk of injury (typically the maxilla) and to offer protection from soft tissue injuries to the lips and cheeks.
- The ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention and the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs encourage patient education about the benefit of mouthguard use.
According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard must be properly fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to their oral structures. They should also:
- Be made of resilient material approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and cover all remaining teeth on one arch, customarily the maxillary
- Stay in place comfortably and securely
- Be physiologically compatible with the wearer
- Be relatively easy to clean
- Have high-impact energy absorption to reduce or limit transmitted forces upon impact
ANSI/ADA Standard No. 99:2001 defines three categories of mouthguards, which are typically comprised of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), but vary in cost, adaptability, comfort, level of contact with dentition, and safety/efficacy.
Custom mouthguards are fabricated in a dental office or laboratory from individual patient impressions using thermoforming techniques, which typically employ vacuum-forming or pressure-forming methods. Materials used to fabricate custom mouthguards include ethylene vinyl acetate, polyolefin, and polystyrene-polyolefin copolymer. Such mouthguards can be customized to the requirements or personal preferences of the user.
These self-adapting guards soften when placed in hot water for a short time (approximately 15 seconds) and are then cooled and placed into the mouth for customized fitting. The guard is adapted to the user’s mouth by bite pressure and manipulation using the tongue, fingers, and lips.
As described, stock mouthguards are commonly available and less expensive. Stock mouthguards are available at various department and sporting goods stores. They are manufactured in a limited range of sizes, prefabricated without adaptation to the user’s mouth, and require the mouth to be shut to keep the device in place. It is considered the least effective in preventing mouth damage due to its generic design, improper fit, and movement in the mouth.
The Douglas Family Dentistry Experience
If you live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or the surrounding communities, Douglas Family Dentistry offers a friendly, professional environment for patients from kids to adults and seniors. Need a good-fitting mouthguard for sports? Call us at 480-948-3680 or go to our website to schedule an appointment.