A mouth guard helps to protect teeth and jaws from painful injuries. Whether you’re taking to the court or the field, a dental guard is as essential as the right shoes. Since it’s impossible to cover every sport in one article, these guidelines highlight the variables you should consider when shopping for sports-specific mouth guards.
Identify the dangers
Each sport has a specific danger that can affect the kind of mouth guard you need. For example, basketball has a high ratio of dental injury. Mouth guards are not required for the sport, but they are very useful. Most of the damage to teeth in basketball comes from a missed pass. The ball bounces against the teeth or jaw and causes an injury. As such, a basketball specific mouth guard should have plenty of protection for the front teeth. They’re the most vulnerable to injury when you’re on the court.
If you or your child is playing contact football, on the other hand, you have different dangers. Since football rarely results in a football to the face due to the protective nature of the helmets, your dental guard should protect from different dangers. For football, most dental injuries are the result of falling and grinding or pressing the teeth together. Falling on your face/clicking the jaw are more dangerous. Thick bite guards that protect from tooth to tooth collisions will be better suited to the dangers of football.
Compliance is a big factor
Even the best mouth guard is useless if it’s not used. The best option to ensure compliance is to get a custom mouth guard. You can a custom mouth guard from your dentist. They can range in price but are typically more expensive than an over the counter mouth guard. That said, they provide a superior fit, protection, and comfort. They make it easier for the wearer to breathe, speak, and even drink while wearing the guard. The increased mobility and comfort make it more likely that the wearer will want to use the mouth guard at all times.
While a custom mouth guard is not the only option for protection, compliance is the biggest reason mouth guards fail. If you know that you or your child is going to be tempted to skip the guard if you’re just practicing, warming up, or not really playing, opt for the more comfortable option. Accidents happen at all times.
The difference between sport and sleep mouth guards
You might be tempted to get a night mouth guard or a mouth guard for grinding instead of a sports mouth guard. These are more common and can be cheaper. Unfortunately, a mouth guard for grinding doesn’t have the shock absorption features that make a mouth guard useful. Skip the night mouth guard and get one that will protect your teeth from active, not just passive, threats.
Selecting the right mouth guard for sports requires you to know the dangers. Make sure you have adequate coverage where you need it most. Though night mouth guards are tempting, make sure you’re getting a guard designed for sports–and that it’s something you’ll actually wear.