Why a Custom Made Mouthguard is a Must!
Having the right mouthguard while playing sport in Australia can mean the difference between protecting your teeth or damaging them.
There are mouthguards you can buy from your local sporting store and ones that are designed for you by your dentist or dental technician.
In this post, we will explore why it’s recommended to protect your teeth with a custom-made mouthguard so you can enjoy the sport you love without worrying about losing your teeth.
Jump to Contents
- What is a Mouthguard?
- Why Only the Top Teeth?
- What are Mouthguards Made of?
- Why Get a Custom-Made Mouthguard?
- Do Mouthguards Cause Pain?
- Trauma From Not Wearing a Mouthguard
- What Can Happen if I get Hit in the Mouth
- Mouthguards and Braces
- A Custom-Made Mouthguard: What’s the Process
- 5 Tips for Looking After Your Mouthguard
What is a Mouthguard?
Most people will know this, but for the 6 or 7-year-old boy or girl out there who’s about to start school sport, a mouthguard is something you wear to protect your teeth from trauma or injury.
Now a mouthguard will cover what is known as your entire dentition, or teeth.
You’ll find that most of the time, just the top set of your teeth will have protection. We’ll get to the reasons why in just a minute.
So, whatever sport you play, you should get a mouthguard intended for that type of sport.
It’s going to help protect you if there’s an unfortunate accident involving your mouth.
Why Only the Top Teeth?
This question gets asked a lot.
You can probably imagine if you wore a mouthguard that covers your top and bottom teeth you wouldn’t be able to put your lips together.
The other issue is breathing.
When we play sport, getting oxygen into our lungs is vital for us to be active on the field or the game we play.
Sports mouthguards are specially made and can partially protect your lower teeth from trauma as well.
This is allowed because the top extends down over the outside border of your lower teeth. It almost houses them in the process.
What are Mouthguards Made of?
The material used is a form of pliable plastic that can be moulded around your teeth easily.
Some sports require mouthguards to be stronger, offering much more protection due to the toughened plastic.
Depending on what you need it for, your dentist or their laboratory can design a mouthguard that will protect you from hard knocks that you might sustain from sports such as:
- Field Hockey
- Ice Hockey
- Martial Arts
Why Get a Custom Made Mouthguard?
Something that has been custom made for you will surely be much better than what you can get in a store. The same applies for mouthguards.
A custom mouthguard has a dual purpose.
It protects you from trauma externally but can also stop damage from occurring within your mouth as you wear it. This can include rubbing and grinding.
A well-fitted custom mouthguard shouldn’t rub or have any movement when you wear it. Therefore no chance of damaging those teeth of yours.
Another good reason to go with a custom mouthguard is that the guard is very close to your teeth and gums, adding to the overall protection you’ll have, should you get hit in the mouth.
Do Mouthguards Cause Pain?
A good fitting mouthguard will rarely cause you pain or discomfort.
There might be a slight period of adjustment as you initially wear your new guard but it should become second nature soon after your first game or sporting event.
It is essential to seek out an experienced dentist who can call on their qualified dental technicians to construct a mouthguard that will do the job you need.
Trauma From Not Wearing a Mouthguard
Playing sports will always have a possibility of sustaining an injury to some part of your body.
Head and mouth injuries seem to happen quite often, so we must make sure that we find the right protection for the sport we play.
Some of the mouth injuries that dentists see a lot of are:
- Cut lips, gums and tongue
- Sliced cheeks
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Knocked out teeth
- Broken Jaw
What can happen if I get hit in the mouth?
It really depends on how badly your teeth get hit in the first place.
The one critical thing that your dentist will look at is the state of your nerve within your tooth.
If the nerve is damaged or severed, it can cause your tooth to die and turn black.
This is particularly traumatic for kids as they get older.
With new technology such as laser, dentists can sterilise your nerve and potentially save your tooth from turning black and dying.
The list of activities that can cause trauma to your teeth is a long one.
Remembering My Days as an Emergency Dentist at Westmead Hospital
For kids, trampolines in the backyard were the worst! Bicycles came next on the list, going over the handlebars and face planting on the cement.
School sports also had its fair share of injuries.
Adults would not only have sports accidents; they would have other kinds of accidents.
I would get called in at 11 pm when the pubs had closed. Drunken fights cause horrific damage to teeth, especially if you’ve fallen onto the kerb!
Mouthguards and Braces
You can wear a mouthguard over braces, but the purpose of braces is to stimulate movement so that your teeth align properly.
Because a mouthguard is only ever one size and shape, it can impede the development of your teeth.
Braces do offer a protective quality as they hold your teeth together with wire.
Should you get hit in the mouth, you’ll probably end up with cut lips rather than damage to your teeth.
With that said, for kids that play a school sport, or any sport that has the possibility of sustaining mouth accidents, it’s advisable to see your dentist regularly to check how your braces, teeth and mouthguard are fitting together.
If you are going to wear a mouthguard with braces, you will need to have the mouthguard remade every few months.
A Custom Made Mouthguard: What’s the Process?
If you are playing regular school sport or sport that doesn’t require additional protective features, your dentist will be able to make your mouthguard in their office (at the dentist).
The first thing your dentist will confirm is, what type of sport you play.
This gives them the opportunity to advise you of what kind of mouthguard you should have.
From there, your dentist will take a mould or impression of your front teeth.
You can expect to wait around five minutes whilst the impression sets. It can take some getting used to as dental assistants prepare and remove the mould.
It can be an awkward experience but if you are patient and relax it will be over in no time at all.
The turn around time for a mouthguard made at your dentist can range from 24 to 48 hours.
If you need a mouthguard for sports such as karate, boxing, or games that are more extreme, your dentist will likely need to send the impression to a dental technician.
A dental technician will be able to design a mouthguard that is harder and stronger.
You find that this process can take up to 2 weeks to complete and cost quite a lot more than the ones made by your dentist.
5 Tips for Looking After Your Mouthguard
So you have your mouthguard, but if you don’t look after it, it won’t look after you!
Here are 5 ways to keep your mouthguard in tip-top condition so it lasts for a long time to come.
1. Use the protective case that comes with your mouthguard
This will stop dirt from getting in as well as help prevent any damage occurring inside your sports bag.
2. Clean the Mouthguard after use
It is so easy to chuck it back into the case and leave it until the next time you use it.
Try to get into the habit of washing out your mouthguard in warm water, every time you use it.
You can also use toothpaste and your toothbrush to scrub it; this will stop bacteria from forming.
3. Keep it out of sunlight and high temperatures
Leaving your mouthguard out and exposed to the elements will damage it over time.
Remember, it is a form of plastic so take care of it.
4. Check your mouthguard regularly for signs of wear and tear, holes and rips
Having a damaged mouthguard can cause irritation and redness of your gums.
5. Don’t chew your guard
Chewing will destroy your mouthguard and weaken it. Once in your mouth keep it secure and fitted around your teeth.
With so many people playing high contact or risk sports in Australia, custom-fitted mouthguards have become a necessity in recent years.
A mouthguard that is custom-made and moulded to your teeth is undoubtedly a better option than a cheap, poorly fitted one that you’d buy in a sports store.
We recommend investing in protecting your teeth properly and opting for a custom-made mouthguard; you won’t look back!
What’s been your experience with mouthguards?
By Dr Veronica Roller
Created at April 30, 2018, Updated at December 14, 2020