What are Mouthguards?
Mouthguards are designed to protect teeth from excessive wear or damage. Mouthguards are often used by athletes during sporting events, but may also be needed to help protect people with braces or dental bridges. Mouthguards typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. There are three basic types of mouthguards available:
- Custom-fitted: A custom-fitted mouthguard is considered the best option because they are made to fit your mouth perfectly. Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by your dentist by taking an impression of your teeth. They tend to be more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.
- Stock or Pre-Made: These are inexpensive and can be worn immediately. They are usually made of foam material. Typically, stock mouthguards do not usually fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult, which can be especially difficult to deal with if the mouthguard is for organized sports.
- Boil and bite: These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. However, boil and bite mouthguards often still do not fit as well as a custom made mouthguard, and may still feel bulky, or may not fit well if you have braces. They are based on an “average” head and mouth size, and not everyone is average!
How is a custom mouthguard made?
A custom mouthguard is made at a dentist’s office. First, an impression is taken of your teeth. The impression is then sent to a lab which will create the mouthguard. In some cases, you may be able to choose the color of your mouthguard, or even select a clear mouthguard.
A week or two later, your mouthguard will be ready for a try-in. Your dentist or orthodontist will watch you try the mouthguard, and may adjust or trim it to make sure that it fits smoothly and securely in your mouth. Your mouthguard will typically come with a case to protect it when you are not using it.
Cost and Insurance Coverage for Mouthguards
Insurance may cover some or all of the cost of a custom-fitted mouthguard. The cost of a mouthguard may vary. Your dentist or orthodontist can review the best type of mouthguard for you.
Where can I get a custom fitted mouthguard?
All 1st Family Dental offices offer custom-fitted mouthguards as a part of our comprehensive oral health services. If you have braces or other orthodontic treatment and regularly participate in athletics or contact sports, we strongly recommend having a custom mouthguard made, as your teeth and mouth are more prone to injury when you have braces.
Caring for your Mouthguard
The best way to get the most wear and protection from your mouthguard is to follow these general steps:
- rinse your mouthguard before and after each use, or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste if possible
- occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water, rinse thoroughly and allow it to air dry
- store and carry the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents
- never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water
- check for wear and tear to see if it needs to be replaced