A moldable mouth guard is an essential piece of sports equipment. Playing sports is healthy exercise, but many physical activities carry a risk of injury to the mouth, jaw or teeth. An over-the-counter or custom-made mouth guard provides protection in these situations.
Dental Injuries from Sports
When participating in high-impact, low-impact and even no-impact sports, players are at risk for a variety of dental injuries: lip and cheek lacerations, chipped or broken teeth, tooth root damage, fractured jaws, damaged restorations and even concussions. Wearing a mouth guard reduces the chance of even the most common dental injury by up to sixty times.
Mouth guards are only mandatory in organized body-contact sports such as football and boxing, as well as hockey and other sports where the injury risk is inherently high. But most athletes can still benefit from the protection mouth guards offer. Players on team sports can make contact with one another, whereas individual sports like snowboarding can cause injury to the same degree by falling. Flying balls, rackets and other hard equipment can also produce serious dental injuries.
How a Mouth Guard Protects
A mouth guard effectively absorbs the force of impact to the mouth area before this force reaches the teeth. Made of a resilient but forgiving material, it usually covers and protects the upper teeth, but it offers protection to the mouth, gums and jaw as well. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), when an object or person strikes the face, or a player falls against a hard surface, his or her mouth guard redistributes the force of the impact, and the energy dissipates without causing significant injury.
Moldable or Preformed?
A moldable mouth guard provides a high level of protection by fitting snugly but comfortably against the teeth. Preformed mouth guards are similar in how they are developed, and although these mouth guards are less expensive, they often don't fit as well and can become difficult to hold in the mouth without falling out. As you might assume, moldable mouth guards are molded to the shape of the wearers' teeth. They're less likely to move around or slip as a result, which means they absorb impacts quite well.
Custom Made by Dentist or Make it at Home?
A dentist can order a custom-made moldable mouth guard that fits your mouth perfectly, or you can buy a mouth guard kit and make your own at home. At the dentist's office, the dentist takes an impression of your teeth using a special mold. He or she then uses this mold to order a mouth guard that fits your palate exactly and sits comfortably over the teeth. This custom-made moldable mouth guard may be a more expensive option, but it offers the best protection.
Alternatively, you can make a mouth guard using a "boil and bite" kit. Here, you boil a preformed mouth guard in water, then put it in your mouth and bite down. If you follow the directions correctly, a "boil and bite" mouth guard provides a good fit. To prolong the life of this mouth guard, however, clean it with a stain-removing toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Clean Mint after each use.
Playing sports should be fun; you shouldn't have to worry about disfiguring or otherwise expensive oral injuries. Wearing a mouth guard that's molded to the shape of your mouth and teeth provides peace of mind while offering the protection you or your child needs. Make a mouth guard part of your essential sports equipment.