Sports are a great way to stay active, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s teeth in case of an injury. This is especially true for contact sports such as football, hockey and basketball. One of the best ways to protect your teeth is by using a mouth guard. These plastic protectors can prevent broken teeth or tissue damage in the case of a stray ball, tough tackle, or other impact to the face. The three main types of mouth guards are stock, “boil and bite,” and custom – each offering differing levels of protection for a range of prices. Stock mouth guards can be found in any sporting goods store and are already pre-formed.
Depending on the size of the athlete’s mouth, these may not fit well and can be uncomfortable. They do, however, still provide a minimal amount of protection. “Boil and bite” guards can also be purchased at sporting good stores, but these are able to be fitted to a person’s mouth by allowing the plastic to become flexible in hot water and then molding them around the teeth. This is usually a better option than stock mouth guards, but they can be a bit pricier, running up to $40 or so. The final option of custom mouth guards are the most expensive, but they also provide the highest level of protection. These guards are typically made by a dentist and are designed to custom-fit an athlete’s mouth. A dentist takes an impression of the person’s mouth and then fills it with plaster to create a model of that individual’s teeth and gums. Custom mouth guards are generally the most comfortable and are priced anywhere from $100 to a few hundred dollars.
The American Dental Association highly recommends wearing a mouth guard during all sporting activities, particularly for people who have braces. Braces can easily cut into gums and other soft tissue, creating an extra hazard for their wearers. It’s important to make an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist to discuss your options for wearing a mouth guard. With the addition of this small safety precaution, you can help ensure that you have a beautiful smile all year round.