A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth used to help prevent
injury to the teeth, gums, and lips. Mouthguards are often used in
contact sports, but they can also be used as dental supports or as an
anti-snoring appliance. They can come in various forms, depending on
how they will be used.
Mouthguards originated in the sport of boxing in the 1890s in Britain.
Since then their popularity has grown to other sports and technology
has greatly improved them. Today, they are made of highly durable,
Mouthguards are also known as athletic mouthpieces, lip guards, and
bite splints, depending on exactly what they protect.
Stock mouthguards come in pre-formed shapes and offer little adjustment
to the user's mouth. The only way to adjust stock mouthguards is
manually, with a knife or scissors. Mouth-adapted varieties can be more flexible. Also called self-fit or
boil-and-bite mouthguards, they are made from thermoplastics which can
be heated and made to fit the mouth of the user.
Mouthguards can also be custom-made and fit the mouth using a vacuum,
pressure, or heat activation. Custom mouthguards are made based on the
user’s specific oral specifications. They are the most adapted to the
mouth, but may also be the most expensive.
Most athletes prefer using the boil-and-bite mouthguard for their price
What are mouthguards
mouthguard is needed in any sport
where trauma to the mouth or jaw is a possibility. This includes
basketball, football, soccer, ice hockey, baseball, and boxing.
mouthguards are also used in mixed martial arts, various forms of
wrestling, lacrosse, polo, and winter sports. The American Dental
Association (ADA) advises using mouthguards when playing 29 different
The ADA recommends using mouthguards during games, and, especially at
pre-teen and teen-levels, during practice also. Mouthguards prevent
injuries, and going without one could mean putting yourself at risk.
Mouthguards greatly reduce the incidence of dental injury in sports. More
than five million teeth
are pulled or torn away every year in injury. Up to 40% of these
injuries occur in sports games or practice, from incidents with other
players, equipment or infrastructure. $500 million is spent every year
in the U.S. to replace all avulsed teeth. The use of mouthguards can
slash this figure exponentially.
But even with the use of mouthguards, sports injuries can happen if the
mouthguard does not fit correctly. That’s why it’s important to find
the right mouthguard and fit it properly. Fitting it can be a process
involving several steps or as simple as putting it in your mouth.
Whatever sort of mouthguard used, the mouthguard should fit snugly
against your teeth to ensure optimal protection.
How Do You Check the
Fit of Your mouthguard?
You can customize a mouthguard to fit your mouth in three ways:
self-fit (boil-and-bite), instant-fit, and custom fit. Self-fits
involve placing the mouthguard in boiling water and molding it to your
teeth, while the instant-fits require no molding, allowing the user to
wear and go. Labs make custom mouthguards based on the user’s oral
For the boil-and-bite fitting process, you’ll need a pot, spoon, water,
mirror, bowl, and a watch. Place in boiling water, cool, then fit into
your mouth so they conform to the shape of your teeth, place it back in
the cold water to set. You can repeat the process if the fit is not
Mouthguards work by absorbing and dispersing the impact on your mouth
from an outside force. An exact fit is crucial to ensure that the
mouthguard stays in place in the case of impact. When properly fitted,
the mouthguard will help absorb and cushion the impact, transferring
the shock along the gum line, and thereby help reduce the risk of
To fit properly, your mouthguard should align with the centerline of
your upper lip. Push the guard into the teeth and gums until you get a
snug, comfortable fit. If there is an open space or if it causes undue
pressure on your teeth, you should repeat the process.
In addition to their high flexibility, instant-fit mouthguards also
have a high level of stability and durability in all conditions. Their
medical-grade silicone can be easily cleaned in boiling water with zero
Like the boil-and-bite and all mouthguard fits, the instant-fit should
provide a snug feel. If you have difficulty maintaining that feel as
your mouth or teeth move, then you may need to check size and/or choose
The custom-fit mouthguard offers the ultimate in fit as it is fitted
specifically designed for the individual athlete as part of its
fabrication process. In addition to providing protection for the teeth,
these mouthguards may also include additional features that can protect
the jaw through anti-shock jaw pads. Air channels — which aid in
airflow and help you breathe better — as well as the profile or height
of the mouthguard, can be customized to your preferences.
To find the right mouthguard for your sport, consider the different
types of on the market. Mouthguards are categorized into five fit
styles: classic, slim, sport, braces, and custom. Each of these
requires a different fitting method and offers its own set of features.
Slim fit mouthguards are often thinner, with a lower profile than
classic mouthguards, while sports mouthguards are generally recommended
for playing sports such as football or basketball. Braces fit
mouthguards are instant-fit mouthguards, which require no molding for
quick, comfortable protection.
It’s also important to note that even if your sport doesn’t mandate the
use of a mouthguard, it’s not a bad idea to use one to ensure maximum
protection against injuries and cosmetic dental issues.