When it comes to competitive sports, and even some recreational activities, mouthguards are an important piece of protective equipment that many people overlook, despite the level of protection they offer. Many complain they are too uncomfortable or make it difficult to breathe. And to be honest, in many cases that is true. Unfortunately, not all mouthguards are made the same, but, when made and worn correctly, they can make a difference when it comes to protecting your pearly whites.
What are Stock Mouthguards?
Stock mouthguards are the ones you see hanging on the shelf in sporting goods stores. They are sold as a one-size-fits-all option. This variety is, unfortunately, where mouthguards get their bad reputation. Because they are one size, they tend to be bulky, don’t fit well, are uncomfortable, and can affect the user’s ability to breathe. While they are a much cheaper option, they are uncomfortable and don’t offer the same level of protection that other mouthguards do, as you will see later. And, because of this discomfort, many athletes will toss them aside and opt for no mouthguard at all, increasing the risk of dental injury.
What about Boil-and-Bite?
Boil-and-bite mouthguards are a slightly customizable guard that you can customize to your teeth at home. These mouthguards typically have a hard, outer shell with a softer inside. You place the mouthguard in warm water, making the inside soft and pliable. Then you place the mouthguard over your teeth and apply a gently biting pressure until the guard forms to your bite.
Unfortunately, getting the bite just right isn’t always easy and this can compromise the desired level of protection. While these mouthguards offer some customization, they are still one basic size and do not work for everyone, leaving you with a bulky mouthguard that is still uncomfortable.
What are Custom-Fit Mouthguards?
Custom-fit mouthguards are just what the name implies. Your dentist makes a mold of your teeth and sends the mold to a laboratory that makes a mouthguard specifically for your dental and mouth structure. These mouthguards are much better fitting, less bulky, do not affect breathing, and provide the most protection possible. While they are a bit more expensive, in this case, you get what you pay for.
However, at SportingSmiles, we offer the ability to get the same high-quality custom-fit mouthguards without a costly dental visit and at a fraction of the price.
Our patented self-impression mold trays allow you to make a mold similar to your dentist but in the comfort of your own home. You return the mold to us and our dental technicians make your custom mouthguard. You receive the same custom mouthguard with the added protection without the dentist fees.
Studies Show Custom-Fit Mouthguards Provide More Protection
But, aside from a much more comfortable fit, do custom-fitted mouthguards really make a difference? The research says YES and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) encourages and supports a mandate for the use of custom-fitted mouthguards in all collision and contact sports.
An article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at and evaluated the protection levels of the different types of mouthguards. Not wearing a mouthguard scored a grade “0” with no protection. Stock mouthguards scored a grade “1”. They stated that these types of mouthguards are dangerous and instill a false sense of security in the wearer. They can also pose a choking hazard as they must be held in place with clenched teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards scored slightly higher with a grade “2”. However, they note that the fitting process is not ideal and that when forming, biting down too hard can reduce the thickness of the guard. This compromises the level of protection. In contrast, a new, custom-made mouthguard scored a grade “6” and offered the best protection against trauma and concussion.
Custom-Fit Mouthguards Reduce Concussion Risk
The most compelling research in favor of custom-fitted mouthguards over the inferior stock guards comes from the Academy of General Dentistry in 2014. This study followed 412 high school football players from six different teams. Of those players, 220 were assigned to wear custom-fitted mouthguards while 192 athletes wore standard stock mouthguards. All the players wore the same helmets. During the season, 8.3 percent of the athletes wearing stock mouthguards suffered mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions. In contrast, only 3.6 percent of the athletes wearing custom-fitted mouthguards suffered concussions. They concluded that athletes wearing stock mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer a concussion.
If you are looking to provide yourself or a loved one with the best possible protection during sporting events, the use of a custom-fitted mouthguard is well worth the extra cost. We at SportingSmiles want to help keep athletes protected and make it easier to acquire these specially fitted pieces of protection. For more information about our custom-fitted athletic mouthguards, visit HERE.