A Guide to Mouth Guards

If you play contact sports from an early age, there usually comes a point at which you need to consider wearing a mouth guard. This tends to be when you reach your mid-teenage years, when the game becomes faster, more competitive and individuals become stronger.

Why do you need to wear a mouth guard? At a younger age, games like rugby, boxing, lacrosse and hockey can be contact free or involve minimal contact. As the games become more competitive, more contact can be involved and the chances of getting a tooth knocked out or other dental injuries can increase.

However, most dentists agree that your mouth guard protects you from much more than just a knocked out tooth. A good mouth guard will also help to protect your jaw and other areas of your face, as it can minimise the impact of collisions. Sometimes, even if you do lose a tooth, your mouth guard could have helped to avoid even worse damage being sustained.

Many children growing up do not realise how important a mouth guard is. After all, if you lose teeth in a sporting accident, they are not going to grow back. So protecting your teeth should be a priority.

One of the decisions that many parents face is what sort of a mouth guard to choose for their child as they are growing up. There are three different types of mouth guard available.

The first is a standard-shaped mouth guard that is simply bought over the counter at places such as sports shops. As you can imagine, this affords minimal protection but it is cheap. However, it can be ill-fitting and uncomfortable, as it is not shaped to suit the individual’s bite.

The second option is also widely available in sports shops. It is a standard mouth guard which can be boiled and then bitten into, so that it moulds to the shape of your mouth. It is more comfortable to wear than the first option. However, many experts still view it as providing less than ideal protection.

Finally, the best – and also the most expensive option – is a mouth guard that is fitted by your dentist. Your dentist will take an exact moulding of your mouth to determine the shape of your bite and then send this moulding to a laboratory. This will produce an accurate mouth guard made from high quality materials, which can give you the protection and comfort you need to enjoy playing sport.

So which should you choose? For many parents, the best solution is to choose a cheaper option when their children are younger. At this stage, contact in their chosen sport may be less aggressive. As children grow and their teeth grow, they will usually need to be fitted for a new mouth guard regularly. Therefore, provided that they stay interested in the sport, you can upgrade to an individually fitted mouth guard when they are slightly older and it will last longer.

Another factor which can affect a parent’s decision is whether their child is undergoing orthodontic work during their teenage years. A lot of teenagers have braces fitted at this age. With many types of braces, it is still possible to play contact sports and in the majority of cases, your dentist would recommend wearing a mouth guard during sport to protect the brace, as well as the teeth. After all, orthdontic work can be a big investment in your child’s future.

Of course, while we’ve focused primarily on children, a quick glance at the England rugby team shows that adults should still wear a mouth guard. In fact, it is every bit as important as contact sports can be even more competitive.

The difference between an adult’s requirement and a teenager’s is that, by the time you have reached adulthood, your teeth have stopped growing. Therefore, you can rest easy in the knowledge that if you invest in a good quality mouth guard, you will not need to buy a new one in a year or so. Provided that you look after your mouth guard, it should look after you. During routine check-ups at your dentist, take your mouth guard along so that you dentist can check whether it still fits adequately and performs well.