Mouth guards; what are they, are they important, and who really should wear them? Mouth guards are made of plastic material used by athletes to prevent injuries. The use of a mouth guard can prevent a tooth from being chipped, broken or knocked out completely. When participating in a contact sport or physical activity where there could be a risk to your teeth or jaw the use of a mouth guard is recommended. Studies have shown that an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer injuries when a mouth guard is not worn.
There are many types of mouth guards available to athletes. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a guard is to remember the importance of a properly fitted, comfortable, and resilient guard with sufficient cushion in the most critical areas. A “Stock” Mouth guard will generally cost anywhere from $3 to $20 and can be found at the local sporting goods store. These guards can be used directly from the package without making any alterations. However, the athlete will continually have to bite down on the mouthpiece to hold it in place, therefore limiting the ability to carry on a conversation while wearing the mouth piece. Athletes will also find them bulky in size and will sometimes cut them down which will reduce the effectiveness.
Another type of mouth guard available for purchase is the boil and bite, and is comparable in cost as the “stock” mouth guard. The Boil and Bite are available in three sizes S/M/L. Boiling the mouth guard allows the plastic to mold to the athletes’ teeth; however they typically will not cover all of the teeth which may reduce the effectiveness.
The final mouth guard available is custom made. This type is fitted specifically for the athlete by an orthodontist or dentist. They provide the best comfort and stability, and are made of the best material. This type also interfere the least with speech and breathing They are more expensive but remember that you have just purchased the most important piece of equipment no matter what sport you are playing.