Into sports? Why a mouthguard is a must

Into sports? Why a mouthguard is a must

March 9, 2020 9:46 am Published by

A mouthguard is a must if you’re into sports. Also known as mouth protectors, sports guards or gum shields, a mouthguard protects your teeth and gums from the harmful impact of knocks and bumps, caused by sports or other activities.

  • Why use a mouthguard?

Quite simply, a mouthguard will stop your teeth from being knocked out – and all the pain, inconvenience and repair work that goes along with that! If your teeth are missing then you can have problems with daily, essential activities that you don’t think about, like talking and eating. And, the damage caused might not be as dramatic as losing a tooth – a misjudged throw or pass on the sports court could crack the enamel or dislodge the tooth slightly. In any case, damage to your teeth is a headache it’s best to avoid.

  • What are the types?

A mouthguard usually protects your upper teeth and gums. This is important because your upper jaw sticks out above your lower one, and is more vulnerable to damage. If you have a special situation then your dentist might also suggest a lower jaw mouthguard, for example if you have braces

  • Who needs one?

A mouthguard isn’t just for heavy-duty contact sports like boxing, but also physically active games like hockey and football. You might also want to consider wearing one if you take part in sports or activities where you might fall, even if you’re working solo – such as gymnastics and cycling.

  • Other uses

A night mouthguard can protect against teeth grinding – a damaging process that you might not even be aware of. If your dentist diagnoses this, then a mouthguard, also called a nocturnal bite plate, can help. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but it’s better than the alternative option of permanent tooth damage.

  • Readymade versus tailormade

A custom-made mouthguard will be created and fitted by your dentist using a mould and special materials. It’s an expensive solution, but also the most effective – it will likely offer the most comfort and ease of use too. If you regularly play contact sports then it’s a no- brainer. Ready-made mouthguards can be bought in sports shops and worn straight away, though they likely won’t fit well nor offer the same level of protection.

  • Boil and bite

Mouthguards known as ‘boil and bite’ can be an in-between solution. These are bought as pre-moulded mouthguards that can then be customised to your own teeth and jaw shape. However, the jury is still out on just how much more effective these really are. If you don’t follow the instructions or have an unusually-shaped jaw, then you might end up with a poorly fitting mouthguard that doesn’t offer enough protection. Quite simply, there’s no substitute for getting a custom-made mouthguard made to a professional quality by your dentist.

  • What makes a good mouthguard?

Regardless of your budget, the hallmark of a good mouthguard is a comfortable fit, resistance to damage, and being easy to clean and look after. If you struggle to speak or breathe while wearing your mouthguard, then it’s probably not a good choice. You can expect a good quality piece to last around a year, though if you’re a frequent sports player or your jaw shape is still changing then it might only be 6 months. Those using night mouthguards can expect them to last upto 5 years, as there’s less wear and tear going on.

  • Looking after your mouthguard

There’s a few tips and tricks to making your mouthguard work as well as possible for as long as possible. First, resist the temptation to chew it while you’re wearing it. Next, make sure you clean it regularly with water. Every now and then, you can use a mild antibacterial to make sure any bacteria are busted. Don’t use toothpaste as this isn’t good for the materials used. Lastly, keep your mouthguard in its case – don’t be careless, as it could get damaged if kept loose in a sports bag.

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