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As an athlete, it’s important to protect your body from injury in order to perform at your best. But did you know that your teeth are also at risk of injury during sports activities?

Dental injuries are actually quite common in sports, with estimates suggesting that up to 39% of all dental injuries are sports-related.

In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) has reported that dental injuries are the most common type of injury sustained in organized sports.

So what can you do to protect your teeth on the field? One crucial piece of protective equipment is the athletic mouthguard. In this article, we’ll explore what athletic mouthguards are, how they work, and the different types available to athletes.

We’ll also go over how to properly fit and care for your mouthguard, as well as the benefits of investing in one.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of why athletic mouthguards are so important for maintaining healthy teeth and how they can help prevent dental injuries.

What are Athletic Mouthguards and How Do They Work?

Stock vs. Custom-Fit Mouthguards

Stock Mouthguards Custom-Fit Mouthguards
Pre-made and available in a range of sizes Made specifically for you based on an impression of your teeth
Least expensive option Most expensive option
May not provide the best fit or protection Provides the best fit and protection
Suitable for low to moderate intensity sports Suitable for high intensity sports

An athletic mouthguard is a device worn over the teeth and gums to protect them from injury. It’s made of a flexible material that absorbs the impact of a blow to the face, helping to prevent damage to the teeth and jaw. Mouthguards are typically worn during contact sports such as football, hockey, and boxing, but they can also be worn during non-contact sports such as basketball and soccer to help prevent dental injuries from accidental collisions or falls.

There are two main types of mouthguards:

  1. Stock mouthguards: These are pre-made and come in a variety of sizes. They’re the least expensive option, but they may not provide the best fit or protection.
  2. Custom-fit mouthguards: These are made by a dentist or orthodontist using an impression of your teeth. They offer the best fit and protection, but they tend to be more expensive than stock mouthguards.

To use a mouthguard, you simply place it over your teeth and gums and hold it in place with your teeth. The flexible material conforms to the shape of your mouth, creating a secure fit. When an impact occurs, the mouthguard absorbs the shock and spreads it out across the surface of the device, reducing the risk of injury to your teeth and jaw.

It’s important to note that mouthguards are not a replacement for proper technique and safety measures. They should be worn in addition to other protective equipment such as helmets and pads, and athletes should always follow proper rules and guidelines for their sport to minimize the risk of injury.

Types of Athletic Mouthguards: Which One is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the right athletic mouthguard for you, there are a few key factors to consider:

  1. Type of sport: Different sports have different risks of dental injury, so it’s important to choose a mouthguard that is appropriate for your sport. For example, a mouthguard designed for football may not be suitable for basketball.
  2. Level of play: Mouthguards are available for athletes of all levels, from youth sports to professional leagues. Consider the intensity and physicality of your sport when selecting a mouthguard.
  3. Personal preference: Some mouthguards are more comfortable or easier to wear than others. It’s important to find a mouthguard that you’re comfortable wearing for extended periods of time.

Based on these factors, there are three main types of athletic mouthguards to choose from:

  1. Stock mouthguards: As mentioned earlier, these are pre-made mouthguards that are available in a range of sizes. They are the least expensive option, but they may not provide the best fit or protection. Stock mouthguards are often made of a soft, flexible material that can be easily trimmed to fit your mouth. They are suitable for low to moderate intensity sports, such as youth or recreational sports.
  1. Boil-and-bite mouthguards: These mouthguards are made of a soft, flexible material that can be molded to fit your teeth. To use a boil-and-bite mouthguard, you first boil it in water to soften it, then place it in your mouth and bite down to create an impression of your teeth. The mouthguard will harden as it cools, creating a custom fit. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are a more affordable option than custom-fit mouthguards, but they may not provide as good of a fit or protection. They are suitable for low to moderate intensity sports.
  2. Custom-fit mouthguards: As the name suggests, these mouthguards are made specifically for you based on an impression of your teeth. They are made by a dentist or orthodontist using a mold of your teeth, which ensures a precise fit. Custom-fit mouthguards are the most expensive option, but they provide the best fit and protection. They are suitable for high intensity sports, such as professional or collegiate level sports.

It’s important to note that mouthguards should be replaced every year or whenever they show signs of wear and tear. This is especially important for custom-fit mouthguards, as they may not provide the same level of protection if they no longer fit properly.

How to Properly Fit and Care for Your Athletic Mouthguard

Properly fitting and caring for your athletic mouthguard is crucial for optimal protection and performance. Here are some tips for getting the best fit and maintaining your mouthguard:

  1. Follow the fitting instructions: Each type of mouthguard has its own fitting instructions, so be sure to follow them carefully. If you’re using a stock or boil-and-bite mouthguard, trim it to fit your mouth if necessary. If you’re using a custom-fit mouthguard, follow the instructions provided by your dentist or orthodontist.
  2. Wear the mouthguard properly: To get the best protection from your mouthguard, it’s important to wear it correctly. Place the mouthguard over your teeth and gums, holding it in place with your teeth. Make sure it covers all of your upper teeth and fits snugly against your gums.
  3. Clean your mouthguard regularly: To keep your mouthguard clean and hygienic, rinse it with cold water before and after each use. You can also brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove any plaque or debris.
  4. Store your mouthguard properly: When you’re not using your mouthguard, store it in a clean, dry place. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or exposing it to extreme heat, as this can damage the material.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

  1. Do mouthguards really work?

Yes, mouthguards are an effective way to protect your teeth and gums from injury. They absorb the impact of a blow to the face, helping to prevent damage to the teeth and jaw.

  1. Can mouthguards prevent concussions?

While mouthguards cannot completely prevent concussions, they can help to absorb impact and reduce the risk of head trauma. This is especially important in sports where concussions are a concern, such as football and hockey.

  1. Can mouthguards be worn with braces?

Yes, mouthguards can be worn with braces. In fact, it’s especially important for athletes with braces to wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and orthodontic appliances from injury.

  1. How often should I replace my mouthguard?

It’s recommended to replace your mouthguard every year or whenever it shows signs of wear and tear. This is especially important for custom-fit mouthguards, as they may not provide the same level of protection if they no longer fit properly.

  1. How do I clean my mouthguard?

To keep your mouthguard clean and hygienic, rinse it with cold water before and after each use. You can also brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove any plaque or debris. Avoid using hot water or harsh cleaning agents, as these can damage the mouthguard.

Boil-and-Bite vs. Professionally-Made Mouthguards

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards Professionally-Made Mouthguards
Made of a soft, flexible material that can be molded to fit your teeth Made by a dentist or orthodontist using an impression of your teeth
More affordable than custom-fit mouthguards Most expensive option
May not provide as good of a fit or protection as custom-fit mouthguards Provides the best fit and protection
Suitable for low to moderate intensity sports Suitable for high intensity sports

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