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