Boxers wear them. NFL and NHL players wear them. In fact, most athletes who engage in sports with an element of physical contact will wear them. Mouthguards are a key component of a sports athlete’s protective wear and serve to protect the wearer’s upper and lower teeth and gums from impact injuries.
Although mouthguards can be bought in most sports equipment stores, they are usually of a standard size and shape, and so perhaps won’t provide the best protection. Traditionally ‘boil-and-bite’ – ie, the guard is heated in hot water and then placed into the mouth for shaping; but a dentist on the other hand can provide athletes with custom-made mouthguards that are designed to provide a far more secure fit and enhance the protective qualities of the guard.
Mouthguards are flexible plastic shields which protect against damage to the teeth, gums, jaws and joints and even to the neck and brain, by absorbing the impact sustained during any blow to the mouth or jaw. Mouthguards that are the wrong size, or are loose-fitting, may not provide adequate protection against impact blows, resulting in loss or damage to the teeth, or even more severe injury such as concussion.
When creating a custom-fit mouthguard, the dentist will take into account several factors in order to best match the patient’s mouth. He will examine the condition of the patient’s mouth and teeth; the age and stage of the patient’s tooth development and the sport in which the patient participates, as some sports may require a heavier, more protective mouthguard.
The dentist will take a series of impressions of both the patient’s upper and lower teeth, which are then sent to a dental lab with any other pertinent information in order for a cast to be created. The cast is then used to mold the mouthguard into the desired shape to provide the best fit for the patient.
Good mouthguards should provide a good fit, but also be comfortable enough to wear as well as flexible enough to cushion the force of any impact. It should also keep any disruption to the wearer’s speech or breathing to a minimum.
For all athletes engaged in a sport where there is the likelihood of physical contact and impact, a good mouthguard is an important addition to your sports kit.
To learn more about the benefits of custom mouthguards, contact the office of Dr. Richard Sousa, serving Glen Cove and the neighboring areas, at 516-484-6600.