Sports-related dental injuries ranging from tooth loss to lacerated gums to jaw fractures are common among children and adults and can have long-term consequences. Mouthguards protect against trauma to the teeth, gums, soft tissues and supporting bones.
Mouthguards are necessary in any sport where there might be a strong chance of contact with other participants or hard surfaces and are also a good idea for recreational activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating and cycling.
A dentist makes an impression of the patient’s mouth and then creates an exact-fitting mouthguard from a cast model of the teeth impression using vacuum- or pressure-formed thermoplastic material. As they are customized, these mouthguards provide the best fit, protection and comfort; they are also the most durable.
This mouthguard, generally made of thermoplastic material, must be warmed in very hot water to soften it, so the user can bite into it to create an impression. When moulded within the mouth (or “bitten”), the plastic takes on the shape of the wearer’s mouth; however, the fit is not as precise as that of custom-made mouthguards—and it may be somewhat bulkier. Boil-and-bites come in three sizes: small, medium and large, and are also sized by age.
Made of rubber or polyvinyl, these mouthguards are held in place by clenching teeth together. As a result, they offer the least amount of comfort, protection and durability, and are often bulky and loose.