A mouthguard is perhaps one of the most important pieces of athletic gear around. This soft, flexible, and durable device is mainly used to protect your teeth and jaw from major damage, as well as reduce any risk of a concussion during physical activity. As such, athletes are almost always required to wear protective mouthguards during any competition.
Custom-built mouthguards are considered the best type of mouthguard for any athlete. Even though these require a bit more time and money to make, they are no doubt the most successful at preventing serious injuries to the face and jaw. Read on to find out more about custom-made mouthguards and why you should add them to your athlete’s kit.
Why Do I Need A Mouthguard?
Contrary to what many think, mouthguards aren’t only for intense combat sports. These protective devices are a must-have for anyone participating in activities that pose even the slightest risk of injury. Bikers, skaters, gymnasts, and other athletes are far less likely to suffer from broken and lost teeth than athletes who don’t use any protective gear at all.
I Have Braces. Can I Still Wear a Mouthguard?
Absolutely! You can always ask your dentist for a mouthguard that can fit over your braces as these devices are meant to fit the specific shape of your teeth and jaw. Wearing a mouthguard over your braces can greatly reduce your risk of broken teeth and damaged orthodontics, as opposed to simply going without one.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing custom mouthguards over your braces. However, retainers are a different story altogether. It’s best to remove retainers during physical activities to lessen any chance of damage or injury to your mouth. When in doubt, consult your dentist over what orthodontics to wear and remove during sports activities.
Types of Custom-Made Mouthguards
Your custom-made mouthguard should be light and comfortable enough to wear during any intense physical event, yet strong and durable enough to protect you against any risk of injury. It shouldn’t interfere with speaking and breathing, nor should it contain any strong odors or tastes.
There are two main types of custom mouthguards that your dentist can make for you: vacuum formed mouthguards and pressure-laminated mouthguards.
Vacuum Formed Mouthguards
This is the most common type of custom mouthguard. Vacuum formed mouthguards are specially made from impressions of your upper jaw and thus, provide strong protection from injuries without causing any breathing or speaking problems.
Vacuum formed mouthguards are made from a special material known as EVA polyvinyl acetate-polyethylene copolymer. Your dentist will heat a single sheet of this material, then use a vacuum machine to suction it over an impression of your teeth. After that, he’ll trim and polish the new mouthguard to ensure that it can comfortably fit over your teeth and gums.
Even though vacuum custom mouthguards provide better protection and support than generic store-bought ones, they do need to be closely monitored and maintained carefully. Since these mouthguards are made only with a single layer, they can easily lose shape after just a few weeks of use. If you need something long-lasting, you may want to try pressure-laminated mouthguards instead.
Unlike vacuum custom mouthguards, which use only a single layer of EVA material, pressure-laminated mouthguards are made with multiple layers of EVA material. This is to ensure that they stay safe and secure in your mouth during intense physical activities, as well as remain durable and damage-free during prolonged use.
Which Type of Custom-Made Mouthguard Should I Use?
Single layer vacuum custom mouthguards may not be as long-lasting as multiple-layer ones, but they are incredibly safe and useful for children under 12. They’re lighter and more flexible than bulkier multi-layer ones, so they aren’t likely to interfere with developing teeth or cause any severe discomfort. If you need to get used to the feel of a mouthguard, or if you participate in low-intensity sports, single layer mouthguards can suit your needs best.
Multiple layer pressure-laminated mouthguards work best for kids who are older than 12, as well as athletes who participate in more intense sports like tennis and soccer. These are durable and longer-lasting, and far less susceptible to damage or wear-and-tear over a long period of time. Athletes who need protective gear that can last for more than a few weeks can benefit a lot from this type of mouthguard.
For very intense sports, such as boxing and Karate, multiple layer mouthguards with hard inserts are a must. These provide strong shock absorption and protection from damage, and are the most successful at preventing lost teeth and concussions. If your teeth are fully formed, and if you participate in a high-intensity sport, this type of mouthguard may suit your sporting kit best.
The Best Advantages of Custom-Made Mouthguards
1. Higher Performance
Custom-built mouthguards don’t obstruct your breathing or speaking, nor are they likely to cause any stress during intense workouts. Athletes can have a much easier time moving, running, and doing pretty much any physical activity when they use light, flexible, and comfortable custom-built mouthguards. In contrast, store-bought varieties don’t offer as much freedom of movement or comfort, and are far more likely to cause unnecessary stress and anxiety during workouts and competitions.
2. Better Comfort
Not all jaws are built the same. Pre-made mouthguards can’t always provide the space and fit needed to protect your teeth, gums, and jaw from injury. On the other hand, custom-made mouthguards are designed to fit the shape of your teeth and jaw. This makes them much lighter and easier for athletes to wear. They’re also less likely to interfere with breathing and speaking than bulky pre-made mouthguards.
3. Stronger Protection
Mouthguards that are too loose or too tight for your teeth don’t offer much protection from injury. In contrast, mouthguards that are specially made with the shape of your teeth and jaw in mind provide the best protection against concussion, as well as injured teeth and gums. People who wear braces and orthodontics can also benefit more from custom-made mouthguards designed by their dentists than generic store-bought ones.
4. Less Hassle
Custom-made mouthguards may be a more costly investment, but they offer incredible benefits for your health and your wallet. When you use cheap store-bought mouthguards, you risk paying for emergency care and expensive medical bills. But when you opt for custom-built mouthguards, you get to enjoy the best possible protection from injuries and accidents, as well as troublesome first-aid and emergency hospital visits.