Are you an athlete? Do you participate in club or even casual sports teams, or other high-impact activities like CrossFit? Do you wear a mouthguard regularly? If not, take a quick look in the mirror, or grab your smart phone and turn the camera lens around. Can you picture yourself with a missing front tooth? You might need to. Maybe we can help change your mind with this discussion about the benefits of dentist fitted mouthguards.
In addition to team sports, things can still get physical even during casual and non-competitive team sports or intramural activities. A direct impact to the front of your face with no mouthguard can fracture your front teeth, or even knock one or more of them out. A hit to your lower jaw can slam your jaws together, not only putting a huge amount of stress on your teeth, which can cause cracks and breaks, but it can also cause jaw fractures, damage to your TMJ joint, and can also result in a concussion. For kids, sports injuries account for almost 40% of dental trauma. If you have braces or your child is an orthodontic patient, the trauma from a sports injury can damage not only teeth, but the sensitive tissue inside the mouth.
How Do Mouthguards Work?
Mouthguards are like airbags – they serve to absorb the shock of impact, and to diffuse the pressure around the material of the mouthguard, instead of your teeth and jaws. By absorbing and dissipating, mouthguards can drastically reduce the chances of incurring an injury such as a knocked out front tooth or a concussion.
Types of Mouthguards and How They Stack Up Against Each Other:
PROS: Ready made mouthguards are typically very inexpensive, usually $10 or less and can be purchased at any sporting goods store. That means they are relatively cheap to replace if you lose it. Some mouthguard is better than “no” mouthguard.
CONS: Chances are also pretty high that you will lose or misplace this type of mouthguard, because, as with any one-size-fits-all item, “fits” is a relative term. These foamy, bulky mouthguards may work diffuse some of the impact of a hit, but only if you want to wear it. This type is not fitted to your mouth, and is likely to fall out or come loose when you run or are active. They can be hard to breathe around, and if you try to speak you may sound like you’ve stuck a sock in your mouth. They are also less durable and need to be replaced more often. Also, if everyone’s mouthguard looks alike, and you may end up putting someone else’s in your mouth before you realize it and… well, we’ll just leave you with that thought.
Mouth-Formed (Boil and Bite) Mouthguards
PROS: These are by far the most common mouthguards we see. They are still affordable at around $15-20. These are fitted to your teeth by placing the mouthguard in very hot water and then biting into it firmly. The chances of this type of mouthguard falling out when you are running or active is less than a ready-made one, and if you are more likely to wear it, it is more likely to protect you from tooth trauma or concussion.
CONS: Boil and bite mouthguards are still bulky and can be hard to breathe around or speak while wearing. This means you are constantly taking it out of your mouth, you’re more likely to lose it. Boil and bite mouthguards will need to be replaced more often than a custom fitted mouthguard. Finally, although they are fitted better because of the teeth impressions, there is still a greater chance that it can come loose, reducing its effectiveness, which means you could end up out $20 AND missing your front tooth.
Custom Dentist Fitted Mouthguards
PROS: Custom fitted mouthguards are the best option when it comes to protection against trauma and concussion. In fact, a study confirmed that custom-fitted mouthguards can reduce your chances of concussion by more than 50%. Custom fitted mouthguards are exactly that – made to not only fit snugly over your teeth, but also into your mouth. Many athletes who use this kind of mouthguard notice a very low profile, which means it is much easier to breathe and speak around due to its special shape. A great fit means you’re less likely to take it out or misplace it. Custom fitted mouthguards are also very durable, can be disinfected easily, and you can often custom-order yours with colors and even logos.
CONS: By far the cost of a custom-fitted mouthguard is the deal breaker for most. At around $300, most people don’t see the value, unless they are looking back in regret after they are dealing with medical or dental bills because of a broken tooth or even a concussion. However, many people who have custom mouthguards wouldn’t go back to any other kind, once they realize the kind of protection they can get, in a way that does not impede their performance. Custom fitted mouthguards can also take up to 2 weeks to receive, because impressions are made at a dental office and custom made offsite.
How Can I Get a Dentist Fitted Mouthguard?
You can get a custom dentist fitted mouthguard made at our office and ready to pick up in about a week.
No matter what kind of mouthguard you choose, please choose one, and please wear it. Dental injuries such as a missing front tooth, damage to TMJ joint, and concussions can have lasting and significant impacts on not just your teeth, but on your whole-body health. Please take the time to protect yourself or the athlete in your life and make sure they have the best chance to keep a healthy smile for life.