Do you play contact sports such as football, rugby, boxing or basketball? These sports are intensely physical and unfortunately injuries are quite common, especially injuries to the teeth. Luckily, there’s something you can wear to protect your gnashers: a mouth guard.
How do mouth guards protect my teeth?
While mouth guards may not be seen as cool, they do help protect your teeth in a variety ways:
- Mouth guards protect you from direct blows from your opponents. If you’re a boxer and your opponent punches you in the teeth, then a mouth guard will (hopefully) absorb the blow.
- Mouth guards prevent your upper and lower teeth from clashing together. Your teeth are the strongest part of your body, so when they collide it can be like two rocks hitting one another. You don’t want that. A mouth guard will keep your upper and lower teeth separate during the game.
- Mouth guards prevent you from biting your tongue during a game. A bitten tongue doesn’t sound too serious, but people sometimes need stitches after biting their tongue too hard. Mouth guards also prevent you from accidentally biting your lip too.
When should I wear a sports mouth guard?
You should wear a mouth guard for any sport involving a risk of injury to the mouth. This is basically any sport that involves speed, falls, body contact or flying objects like hockey pucks and rugby balls. You’d be surprised at the number of sports that are potentially hazardous to your teeth. We’re not just talking about football, rugby and boxing, but also sports like skateboarding, mountain biking, and gymnastics. If there’s a risk of injury to your mouth, then you should be wearing a mouth guard.
By the way, you’ll typically only need a mouth guard for your upper teeth. However, some dentists recommend mouth guards for lower teeth if you have braces or bridges.
Different types of mouth guards
There are three broad types of mouth guards:
- Off-the-shelf mouth guards. These are the cheapest type of mouth guard. No moulding is required, which means they are ready to wear straight out of the packet. Although these mouth guards are cheap and convenient, they are also often bulky and uncomfortable.
- Boil and bite mouth guards. These mouth guards become soft when you place them in boiling water. You can then mould it to the shape of your teeth by biting down into it. After the mouth guard cools down, it retains its new shape. This makes the boil and bite mouth guard superior to its off-the-shelf cousin, as you can mould the mouth guard to the shape of your teeth.
- Dentist-made mouth guards. These mouth guards are made by dental professionals in a laboratory. The lab technicians will make the mouth guard to fit your mouth exactly. Therefore, dentist-made mouth guards offer the best fit and protection. However, they are also the most expensive option.
No matter what type of mouth guard you get, make sure it fits well and feels comfortable. Also ensure it’s strong and tear-resistant – it’s going to be protecting your teeth, after all.