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You Should Wear a Mouthguard for These Sports
©Jason Stitt/

It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Sports mouth guards can not only protect your teeth, but they can protect against many injuries that can occur in and around your mouth.

Not convinced?  Six reasons why you should wear an athletic mouth guard.

Although some sports are riskier than others, you should consider wearing an athletic mouth guard while participating in any sport where you could suffer a blow to the face.  Some sports, such as football require a face shield as well as a mouth guard.  Other sports, like basketball, may not require a mouth guard, but wearing one could save your teeth.

Wear a Mouth Guard When Playing Soccer

Wear a Mouth Guard for These 16 Sports

1 – Football

2 – Boxing

3 – Ice hockey

4 – Baseball

5 – Wrestling

6 – Boxing

7 – Lacrosse

8 – Field Hockey

9 – Soccer

10 – Basketball

11 – Water Polo

12 – Handball

13 – Rugby

14 – Karate

15 – Horseback riding

16 – Gymnastics

No you don’t always need to wear an athletic mouth guard when you play the above sports, but a mouth guard can help prevent serious dental injuries.

I get it, nobody wants to be the dork that wears a mouth guard, but most mouth guard-wearing dorks do have better teeth!

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about athletic mouth guards?  Go ahead and leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

Types of Sports Mouthguards
©Suzanne Tucker/

Did you know that a recent survey by the American Association of Orthodontics found that “70 percent of parents said their biggest fear is that their child will get hurt while playing organized sports, yet 67 percent admitted that their child does not wear a mouth guard during organized sports including football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse.”

I’m guessing that the survey asked parents about their biggest fear relating to their child and sports, not just their biggest fear in general.  If the latter were asked, I’m pretty sure that most parents would’ve said that their biggest fear has something to do with pythons, getting stuck in an elevator, or getting stuck in an elevator with a dentist and his drill.

Back to mouth guards.

While there are a variety of mouth guards out there, they can all be categorized into three basic groups.

The Three Types of Sports Mouth Guards: Which is Best?

In this section, I’ll go over the three main types of sports mouth guards.  If you’re impatient and you need to know which one is best, jump down to the next section where I provide the answer.

1 – Pre-formed or Stock Mouth Guards

Shock Doctor Brand Stock Sports MouthguardThe mouth guard pictured to the left is a Shock Doctor brand sports mouth guard.  It is a typical pre-formed or stock sports mouth guard.

The biggest advantage of stock sports mouth guards is that they are usually fairly cheap — they can usually be purchased for $10 or less.

The biggest draw back of stock sports mouth guards is that they are a “one size fits all” type of mouth guard.  Sure, they have different sizes for children and adults, but they don’t take into account the fact that jaws are all shaped differently.

Stock mouth guards are also usually rather bulky and make it more difficult to speak versus the other two types of mouth guards.

2 – Boil/Heat & Bite Mouth Guards

Boil and Bite Mouth Guard - Brain Pad Pro PlusPictured to the right is a Brain-Pad Pro Plus brand boil & bite mouth guard.  The name may be a bit misleading as it’s still not clear whether or not mouth guards prevent brain injuries.  These mouth guards are generally considered to be a step above the one-size-fits-all stock sports mouth guards.

When you open up a boil and bite mouth guard, it’s not ready to use.  You need to heat it up and bite down on it so that your teeth make an imprint on the inside.  They are usually heated up in hot water, hence the term boil & bite mouth guard.

Boil & bite mouth guards are usually fairly inexpensive.  They can be found in the $20 to $50 range. This particular brand retails for right around $20.

3 – Custom Fit Mouth Guards

Custom Sports Dental Mouth GuardA custom fit mouth guard is pictured to the left.  These types of mouth guards are usually the least bulky (only a few millimeters thick) and they are custom-made, usually by a dentist, to fit your teeth.  My dental school charges $75 for a custom sports mouth guard, but most dental practices seem to charge $100 to $200.

While looking around on Amazon, I did find that both Shock Doctor and Sporting Smiles sell a kit that will allow you to get a custom mouth guard made without setting foot in a dental office.  They are slightly cheaper, but if the fit is poor then you are out of luck.  If your dentist makes a custom fit mouth guard and the fit is poor, he or she can make adjustments (usually at no extra charge to you) if needed.

The Best Mouth Guard for Protection Against Sports Injuries

You may wonder which type of mouth guard is superior in terms of the protection it provides.

One of the main problems with mouth guards is that they’re not “cool” to wear.  Many kids give up wearing their over-the-counter mouth guard because it’s too bulky or it makes it harder for them to breathe.

This study by Bass determined that athletes were much more likely to wear a mouth guard if it fit well and was comfortable.  Interestingly, studies have shown that custom made mouth guards fit better, are more comfortable, are less likely to affect speech, and are less likely to come loose.

Pinkham’s Pediatric Dentistry textbook states the following about the high cost of custom-made sports mouth guards: “Even though the actual cost is higher than that of other types of mouth guards that are available, the relative cost is low compared with other equipment such as athletic shoes.  Furthermore, the actual cost is far more conservative than the fees associated with emergency and long-term management of a traumatic athletic injury.”

While that is true, many parents choose the least expensive option when it comes to mouth guards.  Although any mouth guard is better than no mouth guard, it’s important to get a mouth guard that fits well enough that your child will actually wear it during sports activities.  A well-fitting, comfortable custom-made mouth guard can be a good investment for your child if they plan on playing lots of sports throughout their childhood.

Want to know why mouth guards are important?  Read Six Reasons Why You Should Wear a Protective Mouth Guard.

Do you have any questions, concerns, or comments about which sports mouth guard is best for your child?  Write them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

Care of Athletic Mouthguard

There are many reasons to have the protection of an athletic mouthguard.

A mouthguard protects your teeth when you participate in physical activities that are potentially dangerous to your teeth and mouth.  But, have you ever thought about what you are doing to protect your mouthguard?

Your protective athletic mouthguard is always doing one of these three things:

Custom Athletic Mouthguard1 – Protecting you during an activity.
2 – Being stored, awaiting its next use.
3 – Getting cleaned.

Below, I will discuss some ways to care for your protective athletic mouthguard – whether it is being used, stored, or cleaned.

Caring For Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard While It’s In Use

Any time we have something in our mouths, we have a strong desire to chew.  It’s just human instinct.  When you have gum in your mouth, you want to chew.  When food enters your mouth, you unconsciously start chewing it.  So it is easy to see why some get into the habit of chewing on their mouthguards, especially while participating in nerve-wracking sports games!  Unfortunately, chewing on your mouthguard will drastically shorten its life.

The associate dean at my dental school is an avid football fan.  Many of the high school students in his community go to him to get custom mouthguards made.  He told us the story of an excellent high school football player who would chew through his mouthguard each week while he was sitting on the sidelines.  Consequently, the associate dean made him a new mouthguard before each and every game!  While this player was fortunate to have a football fan for his dentist, you may not be so lucky and the cost of replacing mouthguards on a frequent basis can really add up.

So, if you find yourself wanting to bite your mouthguard while you’re not in the game, try taking it out until you get back into the game so that you can extend its life.  But please do remember to put it back in!  Your teeth need protection.

How to Properly Store Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard

Once the game is over (and hopefully won), most players are focused on celebrating the victory and simply toss their custom mouthguard anywhere it will fit.

Many high school football players get into the habit of storing their mouthguards in their face-guards, helmets, or backpacks.  If the mouthguard is shoved in a tight place, it can easily get distorted.

Since custom mouthguards are made out of a soft plastic, any unnatural pressure can distort them and will result in a poor fit the next time they are used.

Ideally, you should get the cast of your teeth that your dentist used to make the mouthguard and put the mouthguard on that cast after each use.  That way, the mouthguard will conform to the cast and retain its custom fit.

However, a more practical way to store your mouthguard is in a case that your dentist can provide.  Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place as heat can also distort your mouthguard.  Leaving your mouthguard in a parked car on a hot summer day could also seriously distort it.

How to Properly Clean Your Protective Athletic Mouthguard

Hopefully, you’re not just using and storing your mouthguard without cleaning it!  Like any dental appliance that sits in your mouth for a long period of time, custom mouthguards need to be cleaned.  Without regular cleanings, bacteria will multiply and cause unpleasant odors to develop.  This could even result in bad breath after wearing your mouthguard.

Luckily, cleaning your mouthguard is quite simple:

After you are done using it, simply rinse it off with cold water.  That’s all.

Many people want to use hot water since they think that will get it cleaner.  Remember, heat can distort your custom mouthguard.  You may also be tempted to use alcohol, denture cleaning products, or toothpaste to clean your mouthguard.  All of these cleaners can harm your custom mouthguard, especially the denture products and toothpaste since they are generally more abrasive.

The book, Craig’s Restorative Dental Materials recommends periodically deep cleaning your custom mouthguard with a solution of soap and water.  A mild liquid hand soap will work well for this.


As long as you treat your mouthguard with care while wearing it, store it in a proper container, and rinse it with cold water after each use, you can expect to get a long life out of your custom mouthguard.

Do you have any questions or comments about caring for your custom athletic mouthguard?  Please leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for visiting!

Reasons Dentists Take Impressions of Your Teeth
©Milos Jubicic/

As I’ve been assisting the third and fourth-year dental students in the clinic over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity of taking quite a few impressions on many different patients.

Taking an Alginate Dental Impression - Photo Courtesy of SuperWebDeveloperI think the whole impression and plaster pouring ordeal is kind of interesting.  However, many students and patients don’t seem to love it. The whole process is a bit messy.  Inevitably, the patient needs help removing the impression material that got stuck on his or her face.  Also, it leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Oddly enough, it doesn’t appear as though the man to the left is having the time of his life while his impression is being taken. So why do we take those dental impressions anyways?

Why Dentists Need to Take Impressions of Your Mouth

A dentist might need an impression of your teeth for many reasons.  A few of the more common reasons are:

Reasons to Wear a Mouthguard
©Jason Stitt/

Common sense dictates that it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports or engage in any activity where you could potentially damage your teeth.  However, we don’t always do what we know is in our best interest.

Mouthguards: Football TeamThere are several reasons why people don’t wear mouthguards.  Sometimes people don’t know that the activity that they are engaging in requires a mouthguard.   Teenagers may not wear them because there is peer pressure to not wear one.  After all, nobody wants to be the only one on their team that wears a mouthguard!  Others might complain that a mouthguard is uncomfortable or interferes with their speech and breathing.

However, there are several reasons to wear a mouthguard.  I would like to share some of them with you.  My goal is not to convince you to wear a mouthguard (or to convince you to make your child to wear a mouthguard) if you are not already.  But I do hope that this article will increase your awareness of the implications of wearing or not wearing a mouthguard so that you can make an informed decision.

Six Reasons to Wear a Protective Dental Mouthguard

1. Mouthguards Protect Against Tooth Fractures

One of the most important functions of mouthguards are to keep your teeth from breaking.  If your tooth does fracture, it usually can be saved.  Here’s a few types of tooth fractures and their respective treatment: