Covid-19 has disrupted a lot of things in our lives, but with community sport back up and running, it’s time to have a chat about the importance of mouthguards. A mouthguard is an inverse mould of your teeth, often made out of soft plastic, that is designed to protect your teeth and gums from physical trauma. Sports mouthguards (like mouthguards for football) are recommended for adults and children who participate in contact sport or non-contact sports with a high risk of injury.
There are a whole range of injuries that can be prevented by using a mouthguard, here a just a couple:
- Tooth fracture and displacement
- Neck and jaw injuries
- Gum, cheek, or lip lacerations
Types of mouthguards:
There are three main varieties of mouthguards available that offer varying levels of protection, at varying price points:
- Stock mouthguards:
These are readily available at your local supermarket or chemist and usually come in two sizes – adult and child. Stock mouthguards are the cheapest available but unfortunately offer the least amount of protection. As they are a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model, stock mouthguards are often ill-fitting and uncomfortable. If the mouthguard is loose fitting, it can also make breathing and speaking difficult.
- ‘Boil-and-bite’ mouthguards:
These mouthguards are probably the most commonly used variety. They offer some degree of customisation as you are able to soften the plastic in hot water and then mould it to your teeth. Although they fit better and offer more protection than stock mouthguards, boil and bite mouthguards tend to be on the bulky side and don’t always stay in place unless you clench your teeth together.
- Custom mouthguards:
A custom mouthguard is one prepared by a dentist that is designed specifically to protect your individual teeth and mouth. These mouthguards can be made out of specialized plastics with in-built air bubbles that help to dissipate force and protect your mouth. This type of mouthguard also offers a better, more comfortable fit.
How is a custom mouthguard made?
The first step of the process is taking an impression of your upper teeth. This only takes a couple of minutes and ensures that your new mouthguard will align correctly with your teeth. The next (and most important step) is to pick a colour. The colours available to choose from depend on which material is recommended by your dentist. Once you have selected your colour scheme, it’s just a matter of waiting for it to be made.
The impressions taken during your appointment will be used to make a model of your upper teeth, which in turn will be used to create your mouthguard. The plastic mouthguard material is overlayed onto the model to create a mouthguard that fits snugly onto your teeth, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. After the initial appointment, your dentist will let you know the turnaround time for making your mouthguard so that you can schedule an appointment to try it in. During your try in appointment, the overall fit of the mouthguard will be double checked and any necessary adjustments will be made. Once everyone is happy with the result, it’s all done!
How much does a custom dentist-made mouthguard cost?
The out of pocket cost of a professionally made mouthguard can vary depending on your level of extras cover. Some health funds offer ‘gap-free’ mouthguards for children while others will only cover a percentage of the total cost. Feel free to give us a call or pop-in if you would like a quote for a custom mouthguard.
Dr Bill Morris’ top tips for caring for your mouthguard:
The best way to ensure the longevity of your mouthguard is to look after it. Dr Bill has these top tips to keep your mouthguard clean and effective:
- Clean your mouthguard using a toothbrush, cold water and soap. Toothpaste is likely to scratch the mouthguard.
- Avoid using hot water when cleaning a mouthguard as it can result in remodelling of the plastic, altering its fit.
- Make sure to allow the mouthguard to dry before storing it in its case to avoid the growth of bacteria and mould.
- Keep away from pets because they are chewy and can sometimes smell like the foods you’ve had in your mouth
- If you notice cracks, pits, or rough patches forming on your mouthguard, it might be time to consider a new one.
If you have any questions about mouthguards or would like to schedule an appointment to get one made, book online or give us a call. Happy brushing and flossing and we’ll see you at your next check-up!