“Do I really need a custom mouthguard or can a store-bought one suffice?” This is a common question we hear but the answer will really come down to several factors. Comfort level, price range, materials, and protection levels will all impact your decision. We break down why it’s especially important to make the right choice when it comes to sports mouth guards.
Why Should I Use a Sports Mouth Guard?
Mouthguards are exactly what they say—they “guard” your mouth by protecting your teeth. They are important for many different sports and may even be mandated, depending on the level of play. Additionally, studies have shown that sports mouth guards significantly reduce the incidences of concussions which can be especially important for younger players.
They also protect the mouth in case of falls, body contact, or flying equipment which is particularly helpful in contact sports. However, they can be useful in a wide array of activities, even mountain biking.
If you already have braces, a mouthguard can still be used, but you’ll need a custom-one from the dentist.
Store-Bought Mouth Guards
These come in two different varieties to choose from:
- Rigid mouth guards
- Boil-and-bite mouth guards
Both have their own merits, but they aren’t designed to last long and can sometimes be cheaply made. The rigid variant is usually the cheapest and pre-formed. They may be bulky and don’t always fit all mouth types.
Boil-and-bite sports mouthguards are one step up from rigid ones and need to be boiled in hot water to activate. Once cool enough, they are placed on the teeth to form to your mouth. Because of their custom fit, they are better for those who need a more tailored fit for the mouth guard to sit properly in their mouth. However, it still may be difficult to get an exact fit and their lifespan is limited.
Custom Mouth Guards
These are professionally designed by dentists to fit your mouth exactly. As such, these sports mouth guards last the longest, are designed to be comfortable, and offer the best protection. Most athletes prefer this type of mouthguard.
For this type, you’ll typically get a mold made of your teeth at the dentist which is then sent to a dental lab to make a mouthguard based on your exact mouth. The mouthguard can then be picked up at your dentist’s office when it’s ready.
Although sports mouthguards are a common choice, night guards for sleeping can also be made by dentists to prevent grinding your teeth at night. Every tooth is designed to touch the nightguard evenly. Furthermore, the 3 mm thickness of the nightguard material ensures that your temporomandibular joint is in a neutral position. In some cases, night guards may even be used to help treat sleep apnea.
With both types of mouthguards, it’s important to clean them daily so bacteria doesn’t build up. This can be done using a soft-bristle toothbrush and hand soap. Scrub the mouthguard gently for about a minute then rinse with cold water.
While store-bought sports mouthguards are a simple bargain option, a custom mouthguard is your best solution for comfortable, protective fit.