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Playing Sports: The Importance of Wearing a Mouth Guard

16 May 2016

If you participate in any kind of contact sports, wearing a mouth guard is actually not just sensible, but really essential to your health and safety. A mouthguard is a semi-flexible protective cover for your teeth which performs the following tasks:

  • Helps to prevent tooth loss due to direct or indirect impact
  • Helps to prevent loosened teeth from being swallowed or otherwise lost
  • Helps preserve the shape of your mouth and jaw in the event of serious impact
  • Helps to prevent risk of mouth trauma
  • Prevents opponents from biting each other

Sports activities are inherently dangerous. In fact most people who play contact sports will regularly sustain multiple incidents of serious bodily trauma over the course of their sporting career, with the risk increasing with the level of professionalism. This means that if you just play socially, the risk is a lot lower than if you play in a premier league. This is due to the intensity and focus with which professional athletes play, often taking extreme risks to obtain extreme results.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always go according to plan. Protecting your mouth and teeth is obviously an important step in maintaining your overall good health. By taking appropriate precautions you can save yourself not only the pain and trauma of mouth injury, but you also won't have to suffer lost training time or missed games.

It is important that the mouthguard you use is of good quality. If your mouthguard is not well made, it can actually cause problems for you, and may even do damage. The very best mouthguards cost a lot of money, but they are engineered especially for your mouth.

It's kind of like bespoke tailoring, and fits perfectly because it is moulded to your exact specifications. What this means is that the mouthguard fits into your mouth perfectly so it won't move around or become dislodged easily, and it will cover your teeth properly.

It will feel comfortable and it will have just the right amount of flex. The advantage of the mouthguard not becoming easily dislodged is that it reduces the risk of the mouthguard obstructing your airways in the event that you become unconscious. A slightly less costly option is a type of mouthguard known as "boil and bite".

This mouthguard is made from plastic with a low melting point. You place it in boiling water to soften the material and then place it in your mouth and bite down, waiting for the plastic to cool. If you can manage this perfectly, then once the plastic has cooled down, the mouthguard will be nearly a perfect fit.

Finally the cheapest option is a stock mouthguard that is designed to fit some generic ideal tooth pattern. There are some serious drawbacks to this type of mouthguard that make it a poor choice if you can afford something better. The obvious problem is that not everyone has a perfect tooth alignment and so the mouthguard may even be totally the wrong shape.

This type of mouthguard is also the most likely to become dislodged, and that can lead to increased injury risk. 

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