Posted by Milltown Dental On 17-01-2019
Sports guards are designed to protect your teeth from injury. They are customized to fit your bite for optimum protection. There are many different types of mouthguards, available both over the counter, at sporting goods stores and through your dental office. Understanding what is best for your needs will ensure you have optimum protection and the full benefits of your mouthguard. Below are the benefits of sports guards as well as the types available.
What is a Sports Guard?
First, let’s look at mouthguards (mouth protectors) in general. Mouthguards are designed to protect your teeth. They are a flexible custom-fitted oral device or “appliance” that is worn over your teeth. They can be worn for a number of reasons, including:
- To help prevent damage from bruxism (chronic teeth grinding)
- To protect teeth from damage
- To assist in treating jaw and bite issues, such as TMJ syndrome
There are other kinds of mouthpieces that treat many issues, such as:
- Occlusal splints which can assist with pain associated with jaw issues, such as headaches and neck aches
- Night guards which can protect teeth from damage caused by bruxism
- Anterior deprogrammers to help relax the jaw muscles ideal for chronic clenchers
- B splints which assist in the process of preventing bite changes
- Kois appliances which are worn while you sleep to relieve muscle fatigue and headaches
Sports guards are designed specifically to protect the teeth and mouth during athletic and recreational activities. They are very important for those with braces, bridgework and to protect your teeth from potential trauma. Not only do they help protect your teeth, but also provide a barrier for your cheeks, lips and tongue to reduce the risk of soft tissue damage from dental work and appliances.
In most cases, sports guards are used for the upper teeth. However, athletes with a protruding jaw or those who wear dental appliances or have had extensive dental work might also require a sports guard for their lower teeth.
What are the Types of Sports Guards?
There are three types of sports guards available:
- Stock sports guards: These sports guards are made of rubber or polyvinyl and are available at sporting goods and drug stores. They are pre-formed and “ready to wear”. They are an affordable option, but they have the worst fit, are uncomfortable and provide undependable protection. Due to their imperfect fit, they can cause gagging, difficulty breathing and can encumber speech.
- Mouth-formed sports guards: These sports guards can provide a more customized fit and are available as a shell liner or a boil-and-bite product. A shell liner is lined with acrylic gel or rubber that moulds to the teeth and can keep its shape. Boil and bite sports guards use thermoplastic which can be customized once heated. As the name implies, the sports guard is heated using boiling water and then the bite is customized by biting into the malleable plastic which contours to the teeth. If the fit is not comfortable, you can refit them by reheating them. These are available over the counter at drug stores and some sporting goods stores. You can also get them from our dental office, for higher quality and better fit. These guards offer an affordable option with a better fit than stock mouthguards. However, they do not offer the protection of a customized mouthguard. The professional boil and bite option is an ideal solution for children over eight years of age who are still experiencing changes to their bite and teeth.
- Customized mouthguards: Since these are customized, they provide a superior fit and are much more comfortable. The customized fit increases protection. These are only available through your dental office. We make an impression of your teeth and send your moulds away to a dental laboratory that will create your sports guard. Although this is the most expensive option, they will cover all of your teeth and are designed to add effective cushioning to protect you against falls and blows to the chin. They are also available in hard acrylic and semi-rigid plastics to accommodate your activity, whether it is contact sports or activities such as skating or rollerblading. If you have allergies, other materials can be used to meet your needs.
Higher quality sports guards are more resilient, will resist tears for longer life and will also be odourless and tasteless.
What are the Benefits of Sports Guards?
Sports guards should be worn by anyone participating in sports regardless of their level. They are also recommended for anyone who is highly active. They help to protect your teeth from damage, such as chipped or broken teeth, root and bone damage, and, of course, tooth loss. People also might not realize, however, that sports guards can help you prevent serious injuries, including jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, concussion and neck injuries. They help protect you when you receive blunt force that can force your lower jaw into your upper jaw. As already mentioned, they also provide a barrier between your soft tissue and your teeth and dental work or appliances, such as braces. This can greatly reduce the risk of cutting and bruising of the lips, tongue and cheeks.
Sports guards such as Under Armour Performance Mouthwear™ also provide additional benefits that help optimize performance, including:
- Increased Strength
- Increased Endurance
- Faster Reaction time
- Reduced Stress
A customized sports guard offers even more benefits, including:
- Allows clear speech
- Won’t limit breathing
- Stays firmly in place with the right fit
- Provides more comfort
As you can see, sports guards play an important role in protecting you from injury. However, as an athlete, you can also improve your performance using a sports guard. They can increase your confidence as you feel less fearful of injury. One last benefit: they protect you against your natural instinct to clench. Clenching produces the stress hormone cortisol which can negatively affect performance.
If you would like more advice about tooth protection for athletes or active lifestyles, Milltown Dental is here to help. Speak to our team to arrange a consultation to determine what sports guard is best for your particular needs by calling (905) 878-8528.