If you’re serious about any sport where you might get hit in the face, then athletic mouth guards are a wise investment. They protect your teeth and jaws from harm and your wallet from expensive bills.
What is an athletic mouth guard?
Athletic mouth guards are essentially protective shields for your teeth. In some sports, they are essential for the upper teeth. Sometimes dentists will recommend them for the lower teeth as well. This is particularly likely if you have dental fittings in your lower jaw.
There are three main types of athletic mouth guards. These are stock, “boil and bite”, and custom. Stock athletic mouth guards are used “straight from the packet”. They are very affordable but tend to be very uncomfortable. Also, they tend to interfere with the wearer’s ability to talk and breathe. They can even become a safety hazard rather than a help.
“Boil and bite” athletic mouth guards are designed to be slightly customized by the purchaser. If you get this right, they are moderately comfortable to wear. They are, however, nowhere near as comfortable or as effective as custom-made athletic mouth guards, fitted by a professional dentist.
Why get an athletic mouth guard?
Damage to your teeth and lips can have all kinds of consequences. At a minimum, you can expect to have to take time out of your game. You may even need urgent medical attention as broken teeth can be a choking hazard and cut lips can bleed extensively.
You’re then looking at dental treatment which could end up being very time-consuming as well as very expensive. If your own teeth are beyond repair, then your dentist will have to fit you with either false teeth or dental implants. You’ll have to wear (and replace) these for the rest of your life.
Investing in an athletic mouth guard can save you a lot of pain, hassle, and expense. You may even be able to get a new one fitted at the same time as you have your usual 6-month check-up.
What is the process of fitting an athletic mouth guard?
Firstly, your dentist will create a model of your teeth. If the model is being created for a young child, your dentist will remove any loose teeth before fitting the model. If you wear braces, then your dentist will apply a special wax to make sure that none of the molding clay gets stuck in it.
Secondly, the protective material will be stretched over the model. The traditional way of doing this is to use a vacuum machine. Now, however, many dentists are using a pressure thermo-forming machine. This allows the athletic mouth guard to be built up in layers and hence offers more robust protection than the traditional approach.
Thirdly, and finally, your dentist will ask you to put in the athletic mouth guard and give them feedback on it. It should be a perfect fit, but if you have any issues, then your dentist can trim the athletic mouth guard for an even more precise fit.