Mouth guards are not just for football players or boxers. They’re appropriate for any athlete who may be subject to accidental jabs to the face by an errant elbow or ball – gymnasts, water polo players, wrestlers, hockey players, basketball players, baseball players – or anyone with an active lifestyle.
There are basically three types of mouth guards:
Custom mouth guards. These are individually designed in a dentist’s office by taking an impression of your teeth and then building a mouth guard over a model of them. Custom mouth guards will provide the most comfort and best fit and, for those reasons, are preferred by most athletes. They are, however, the most expensive option.
Boil-and-bite mouth guards. These mouth guards can be purchased over-the-counter at a drug store or sporting goods store. They are made of hard plastic in a pre-formed shape that are softened by submerging in boiling water. You then create a customized fit by biting down on the plastic while it is still warm, allowing it to mold to the shape of your teeth. They generally work better than stock mouth guards.
Stock mouth guards. Inexpensive and ready-to-wear, these mouth guards rarely fit well and can make talking and breathing difficult.
Why a mouth guard is important
Wearing a mouth guard can protect your mouth and teeth from any trauma to the mouth that may cause bleeding and lacerations to the gums, or loosen, crack or knock out a tooth resulting from a fall, tackle or hit to the face. If you wear braces or any other dental appliance affixed to your lower jaw, your dentist may recommend one for you as well. It’s a wise investment that will protect your teeth and any dental work you may have had.