Common Questions About Athletic Mouthguards

What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a flexible appliance made out of plastic that is worn in athletic and recreational activities to protect teeth from trauma.

Why should I wear a mouthguard?
To protect your mouth from injuries. The dental profession unanimously supports the use of mouthguards in a variety of sports activities. More than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year.

What kinds of injuries can a mouthguard prevent?
A mouthguard can prevent serious injuries such as concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents of unconsciousness, jaw fractures and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. Wearing a mouthguard can reduce concussions by almost half. Young children, in particular, often sustain damaged or dislodged teeth, fractured jaws and lacerated lips when participating in sports. Mouthguards are effective in moving soft issue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances.

In what types of sports should I wear a mouthguard?
Anytime there is a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, it is advisable to wear a mouthguard. Players who participate in basketball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating, and martial arts as, well as recreational sports such as skateboarding and bicycling should wear mouthguards while competing. Currently, five sports at the amateur level require mouthguards during practice and competition: boxing, football, ice hockey, men's lacrosse and women's field hockey.

Aren't mouthguards only for football and hockey players?
Recent findings show that soccer players are more likely than football players to sustain an orofacial injury, and a basketball player's risk is twice that of a football player. More people currently participate in organized soccer than in competitive football, where mouthguards and face masks are mandatory.

Why don't kids wear mouthguards?
Parents are sometimes uninformed about the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved with sports in which the child participates. Some, though not all schools, reinforce the health advantage of mouthguards for their contact sports. Cost may be another consideration although mouthguards come in a variety of price ranges.

What are the different types of mouthguards?
Stock mouthguard:
The lowest cost option is a stock item which can range in price from $1 to $20 and offers the least protection as the fit adjustment is limited. The stock mouthguard may be bulky and interfere with speech and breathing since it requires that the jaw be closed with the teeth biting down to hold in place. It comes ready to use without customization and may leave the back teeth uncovered leading to minimal protection. A stock mouthguard is not considered acceptable as a facial protective device.

Mouth-formed mouthguard: These "boil and bite" mouthguards come as a shell-liner made of thermoplastic materials. The lining of the mouthguard is immersed in boiling water for 10-45 seconds, transferred to cold water and then adapted to the teeth. The correct size must be chosen for this type of mouthpiece to cover all teeth and should not be bitten done on too far when manipulating. This may make the mouthpiece too thin for protection. While they are less expensive than custom-made guards, the fit is not as good and they do not last as long, especially if refitted.

Custom-made mouthguard: Custom-fitted athletic mouthguards are typically considered to have the highest level of protection. They are made by a dentist or a professional laboratory. A dentist may charge anywhere from $75 to $150, whereas a lab charges much less. Custom mouthguards are individually designed to provide the best fit and comfort. An impression of the teeth is made and then a three-dimensional cast of the impression. The custom mouthguard is then fabricated from the cast to fit over the teeth. Custom mouth guards do not require the jaw to be closed while wearing, producing less interference with breathing and speech.

How should I care for a mouthguard?
Clean your mouthguard by washing it with soap and warm (not hot) water. Before storing, soak your mouthguard in disinfecting mouthwash. Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated plastic storage box when not in use. Make sure the box has several holes so the mouthguard will dry. A mouthguard kept in a moist setting will serve as a safe harbor for harmful bacteria. Heat is bad for mouthguards, so don't leave it in direct sunlight or in a closed automobile. Don't bend your mouthguard when storing. Don't handle or wear someone else's mouthguard. Call your dentist who made the mouthguard if there are any problems.

How often should I replace my child's mouthguard?
Depending on the child's growth, mouthguards may need to be replaced once a year.

What is a helmet attachment and do I need one?
A helmet attachment is formed onto the athletic mouthguard and is non-detachable. It may be helpful to those playing any sport with a helmet for a variety of reasons. Some of these sports may include: football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, in-line hockey, etc. It is your choice whether or not to have an attached helmet strap.