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Home - 3 Ways to Check the Fit of Your Mouthguard



  3 Ways to Check the Fit of Your Mouthguard

April 22, 2018



What are mouthguards?

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, flexible materials.

mouthguard

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 and convenience.

What are mouthguards Used For?

A 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 sports.

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. 

football player

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 profile.

Boil-and-Bite

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 right.

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 injury.

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.

Instant-Fit

Typically made from 100% silicone, mouthguards are preferred by braces wearers by comfortably covering the shape of the brace brackets. Instant-fits require no boiling and are offered as single or double brace forms. The former conforms to the upper teeth only, while the latter conforms to the upper and lower brace brackets.

mouthguard

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 deformation.

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 another style.

Custom-Fit

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.

Categories

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.

Citations
(1) http://www.dentistrytoday.com/sports-dentistry/357-athletic-mouthguards-indications-types-and-benefits
(2) https://www.dentalcare.com/en-us/professional-education/ce-courses/ce127/statistics






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