3 Types Of Mouth Guards

mouth guard

No matter how hardcore an athlete you are, we can make a good bet you like your teeth. They are useful after all. When it comes to guarding your pearly whites, nothing is as efficient as a quality mouth guard. Finding the right one is where the trick is. Guards come in different shapes and sizes designed to fit various oral cavities and can even be customized to your exact needs. Several graphic designs are available to let you showcase your personality; there is no lack of options and it can seem overwhelming. Don't worry; we are here to help you narrow it all down to the exact gum guards you need.

We will talk about the importance of guards in the world of hard knock sports, why they are necessary beyond just protecting your teeth, how to best use them and more. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of which kind of guard will best meet your needs and how to use one properly. There is no way of getting around. It if your head is going to get bounced around, that is bad enough. Don't lose your marbles over it.

What Is A Mouth Guard

woman putting on mouth guard

Image via freepik

A mouth guard is essentially a plastic shield that encases the teeth and gums and protects them from blunt damage. The plastic that mouth guards are made of is pliable and covers the maxillary or upper teeth and jaw in general. Individuals who need additional protection due to braces or other types of oral appliances can have a custom guard done that also covers the lower jaw. There are a few types of guards that can fit most situations, and we will go over them here in order to help you decide what will work for you. But first a little history on these suckers.

Like Father Like Son

We live in a golden age of sports advancements, and the materials that equipment such as guards, helmets, kneepads and shin guards are made of are top of the line, tested, man-made miracles and lifesavers. It wasn't always so. Guards didn't reach American shores until the middle of the twentieth century, but they had their birth in London some sixty years prior.

London dentist Woolf Krause developed the first mouth guard and called it a gum shield. The gum shield was developed in order to protect boxers from vicious jaw injuries and lip lacerations that were cutting careers short.

The first mouth guard was created using a material called gutta-percha, which is a thermoplastic substance that is hard, tough and used sometimes to insulate electrical wires. It was crude, but it did the job and dentists paid attention. Krause's son Philip, who was a dentist himself and an amateur boxer, took his father's mantle and developed the first mouth guard made of vella rubber, which was much more comfortable and slightly more flexible.

The synthetic materials of today's mouth guards are the peak of comfort and allow for maximum protection; they won't help your lack of head movement though so pay attention!

Why Do We Need Mouth Guards?

Mouth guards are critical in a contact sport not only to protect your teeth from suffering chips, cracks or detachment but also to prevent lip and gum lacerations and even more serious injuries, such as jaw fractures. Injuries of this type can be detrimental over time and can shorten the career of any athlete regardless of age. A mouth guard can soften blows to the head that can lead to concussions or brain damage due to repeated trauma to the head; it is truly amazing all that this small but functional tool can do. Here are a few reasons to take mouth protectors seriously:

Concussions

Many recreational concussions are reported each year in the United States, and these injuries often involve young athletes in their teens. Head trauma has long-lasting effects that are gradual and sometimes can go undetected. While combat sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts come to mind, they are actually not the sports most likely to cause concussions in teens and children. Cycling and football account for over 132,337 reported head injuries in 2009 alone. The effects of concussions short term are scary; the long-term effects such as memory loss, depression, and irritability are even more concerning.

Oral Health

Concussions are without a doubt scary, and they are more than enough justification for wearing a mouth guard each time you engage in a tough sport. Missing several teeth might not score you a lot of points on your next date unless that is the look you are going for. Oral health is important, and tooth loss can lead to infection of the gums and set in motion a horror house of issues that can even affect your heart health. The simple use of a guard can keep you feeling and looking your best as you pursue your sports career.

Sports Longevity

We assume that you love what you do and that the sport you play is a lifestyle you want to keep going for a long time. A mouth protector can help you achieve that. Promising careers have been shortened by traumatic head injuries, and hopes and dreams dashed by carelessness. A well-placed gum shield can be the difference between a hard bump and a career-ending injury. You spend a lot of time preparing for an illustrious career, so why not take the time to find the kind of equipment that can get you where you want to go? It's easy, it's widely available, and it can help protect you from harm. Be smart!

How To Use Mouth Guards

mouth gard in a case

Image via freepik

There are a few different types of guards, and while they all serve the same purpose, you may find one more to your liking than another, and one may better suit the sport you engage in. We took the time to examine three mouth guards that are different but similar; we examined how they are used and provide you here with a short description to help you decipher which one will work best for you. These mouth guards are in common use, and some can be more expensive than others. Price differences are usually due to different levels of comfort and protection. The choice you make should be based on your need.

Stock Mouth Guards

Stock mouth guards are the inexpensive choice and come pre-formed and ready for use. Guards of this kind are available at most sporting good stores but have several disadvantages that make most dentists worry, and thus they do not recommend them. Stock mouth protectors are bulky, hard to fit and often make breathing and speaking difficult. They offer little protection and are made of less moldable materials. You may ask yourself why anyone would use these types of gum shields, but sometime something is better than nothing. If you are on the go or need a quick replacement, these may come in handy.

Boil And Bite Mouth Guards

These gum shields are practical and can also be found at most sporting good locations. Made of thermoplastic materials, these mouth protectors can be placed on boiling water to allow them to soften, slightly cool and then shape around the mouth using bite and tongue pressure. You can further adjust the boil and bite mouth guard by using your fingers to shape it for maximum comfort and fit. They are significantly softer than their stock counterparts and provide more protection, as the fit is as close to custom as possible.

Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards

When it comes to high-end mouth protectors, custom is the way to go. Dentists recommend a custom gum shields over anything else since they are professionally made and designed individually with the instruction of your dentist. This is the best option on the market, since your dentist should have a full dental history of you that can reveal potential injuries, previous trauma, and factors that can help shape the perfect mouth protector for you. Customizing a protector is not as inexpensive as the alternatives, but the investment is worth it as custom mouth guards provide the ultimate comfort and protection.

Conclusion

woman putting on mouth guard

Image via freepik

Now you know the benefits that mouth protectors provide and how they can be what stands between you and a nasty concussion or loss of that front tooth you love so much. In the world of contact sports, you don't want to leave anything to chance, and months of preparation or years of dedication can be derailed by a nasty injury that can have you wishing you had protected yourself. There are options for you out there, and science has advanced the technology of these fantastic tools to provide comfort and durability. They may not be as stiff as helmets, but mouth guards will have the sports gods smiling down upon you.

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