For anyone who plays a sport — be it in competition as an adolescent or recreationally as an adult — mouth guards are a must. Sports injuries are one of the main causes for tooth damage and tooth loss, especially in adolescent dental patients. When a mouth guard is added into the equation, tooth damage occurs far less often. If you play sports in the Decatur area, we can design a mouthguard that is fitted to your exact measurements to ensure a comfortable, snug fit.
What are mouth guards?
These devices are worn over the teeth to protect the mouth from physical blows to the face and head. Mouth guards prevent injury to the teeth. In high-contact sports, mouth guards are usually required in order to play and for good reason.
Any sport that involves frequent falls, flying equipment or body contact should require a mouth guard. Sports that require a mouth guard include, but are not limited to: football, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, baseball, skateboarding, gymnastics and mountain biking. Basically, it is safe to assume that any activity that might result in injury to the mouth should require the use of mouth guards.
Mouth guards generally only cover the upper teeth. If a person has orthodontic oral appliances (such as braces), they may need a special kind of mouth guard that covers both top and bottom teeth. They are designed to protect against broken teeth, damage to the tongue or gums and cut lips.
Types of mouth guards
There are a few different kinds of mouth guards. No matter what sport it is used for, all mouth guards should satisfy a few key requirements. All mouth guards should be resistant to tearing, should be comfortable and allow for free breathing and should not severely restrict speech.
Stock mouth guards
The most inexpensive of the bunch, stock mouth guards are purchased already formed into an arch. These mouth guards do not offer a customized fit and often do not fit well as a result. Stock mouth guards may make it difficult to speak or breathe correctly and can feel bulky in the mouth. These are better than nothing as a last-minute option, but if you participate in sports regularly, you may want to invest in a mouth guard with a custom fit.
Custom-made mouth guards
These mouth guards are by far the most comfortable and best-fitting. Custom-made mouth guards are designed and created in the dentist's office (or in the dental laboratory). First, an impression is taken of the teeth to make a mold for the custom mouth guard. Custom-made mouth guards are preferred by professional athletes, as they fit and feel the best.
Boil-and-bite mouth guards
A happy medium, the boil-and-bite mouth guard is a smart innovation on the stock mouth guard. These devices are purchased already in the shape of the arch of teeth, but with extra material that is meant to mold to the teeth. The mouth guard is submerged into boiling water for a short period of time. Once the mouth guard has cooled to a comfortable temperature, it is then placed in the mouth. The wearer bites down into the softened material, creating a customized fit. Although better-fitting than stock mouth guards, boil-and-bite mouth guards can still feel bulky.
Protect your teeth
If you are in any kind of sport, you could most likely benefit from a mouth guard. Make sure to protect your teeth from injury while playing sports, and your teeth will surely thank you.
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