People often say “you have a wonderful smile” or “your smile is contagious.” It’s what people notice about us, often being their first impression.
What would happen if that smile was marred by the loss of two or three teeth? Not only would people notice, but simple tasks like eating or talking could also be affected. That simple loss is something we hope never happens. But with the active lifestyles we lead, especially teens in sports, it’s a risk we take every day.
Fortunately, it can be avoided by using a mouthguard, a simple tool you can purchase off the shelf at any sporting goods store or drugstore. These molded protective devices can help cushion blows to the mouth or jaw to prevent injury to the teeth, arches, lips, and gums. While mouthguards are almost commonplace for high contact sports like football and boxing, any sport where your body is moving is a candidate for such a simple protective device.
So what should you look for when purchasing a mouthguard? To start with, it’s important to know what type of mouthguards are sold in the market.
- Custom – These type of devices are just what you would expect, custom fit to your teeth. Your dentist makes them for you by creating an impression of your teeth which is used to build the custom guard. They are more expensive, but offer the best fit and protection.
- Boil and bite – Made from a thermo-plastic material, you prepare them by heating in boiling water, then place in your mouth to create a custom impression with the guard. They are almost as good as custom, but may not provide the perfect fit.
- Ready made – These are the most common and may be good enough, depending on the sport or activity you plan using them for. Since they aren’t formed for your mouth, talking or breathing may be difficult with them. They are the cheapest of the three types.
Even if you can’t afford a custom-fit mouthguard, you should pick up a ready made guard to use when active. Some protection is better than none at all.
One thing to consider when looking at mouthguards is that if you wear braces, you might want to consider spending the extra money for a custom-fit guard since you want to also protect the orthodontic work of the braces. The guard can also protect your lips from the braces should you get hit in the mouth.
The best thing to do is consult your dentist about the best type to consider. Your dentist can advise you about what type you might need based on your teeth and gums.