For more than 50 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has promoted the protective value of wearing properly fitted mouthguards while participating in athletic or recreational activities that carry a risk of dental injury. Some sports require a mouthguard and most recommend one. Safety is essential to maintaining oral health, and a properly fitted mouthguard can minimize the risks of sustaining oral injuries during participation in sports.
- the ready-made, or stock, mouthguard;
- the mouth-formed, “boil-and-bite” protector;
- the custom-made model, either vacuum-formed or pressure-laminated by a dentist or a dental laboratory (based on the dentist’s instructions); a custom made mouthguard is not usually made until all the permanent teeth have erupted (not counting wisdom teeth)
People of all ages are encouraged to use a properly fitted mouthguard in any sporting or recreational activity that may pose a risk of injury. The best mouthguard is one that is utilized during sport activities. While custom mouthguards are considered by many to be the most protective option, other mouthguards can be effective if they: 1) fit well, 2) are worn properly and 3) stay in place.
I recommend a custom-made mouthguard, because experience and literature suggests that they generally provide better retention and comfort, less interference with speech and breathing, and more adaptability to orthodontic appliances.
One study found that boil-and-bite mouthguards can become dangerously thin in critical areas during formation, losing between 70 and 99 percent of their occlusal [chewing surface] thickness. Furthermore, laboratory impact tests of boil-and-bite mouth protectors have reported less adequate cushioning, retention and absorption than offered by custom-made mouthguards. A 1994 study noted that more than 40 percent of athletes wearing self-adapted mouthguards reported a loose fit, and two of three said they were too bulky. [from the Journal of the American Dental Association: Using mouthguards to reduce the incidence and severity of sports-related oral injuries.]
Care for Your Mouthguard (from ADA recommendations)
- Before and after each use, rinse with cold water. You can clean it with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
- Occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
- Place the mouthguard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
- To minimize distortion, avoid high temperatures, e.g. very hot water, hot surfaces, or prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
- Like any other sports gear, a mouthguard will wear out, making it less effective – replace as necessary.
PlaySafe is the leading custom fabricated sports mouthguard worldwide. Invented in 1982, PlaySafe has become the top choice in custom fabricated mouthguards for athletes in Europe, Australia and the United States. PlaySafe has the advantage over boil-and-bite mouthguards due to their superior fit and retention. Available in six levels of protection*, they range from one to three layers of laminated material with a final chewing surface thickness between 3 and 5 mm. The PlaySafe mouthguard can be customized with stickers, team logos, optional helmet strap (in red or black), and is available in a variety of colors. It usually takes about 2 weeks from the initial appointment to have your mouthguard.
PlaySafe Six Levels of Protection
- Junior: 1 layer of EVA material (3mm) with added incisal and occlusal protection. Designed specifically for children with mixed dentition (both baby and permanent teeth).
- Light: 2 layers of laminated EVA (3mm) material. Designed for wrestling, volleyball, mountain biking, and motocross. (Only available in clear, bright yellow, bright red, light blue or green.)
- Light Pro: 3 layers of laminated EVA (3.5mm) material (one hardened layer). Specially designed to provide maximum comfort and protection for all sports.
- Medium: 2 layers of laminated EVA (5mm) material. Specially fabricated for soccer, rugby, basketball, softball, rollerblading, and skateboarding.
- Heavy: 2 layers of laminated EVA (5mm) mate-rial with 3 unique power dispersion bands. Specially designed for baseball, foot-ball, racquetball, martial arts and boxing.
- Heavy Pro: 3 layers of laminated EVA (5mm) material (one hardened layer). Custom fabricated for ice, field and street hockey along with kick-boxing & other heavy contact sports where blows from pointed objects are expected.