There is no evidence to suggest that wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard has anything to do with preventing concussions. In fact, the British Journal of Sports Medicine places this in the realm of sports mythology. Mouthguards have, however, been proven to reduce oral and dental injuries (fractures, chipping and luxations) significantly.
What is a mouthguard?
A mouthguard is an appliance that is made of plastic. It is designed to be worn in contact sports like hockey and football where the risk of damage to the mouth and teeth can be a concern. They are also useful when biking, skateboarding or doing anything else where there is a risk of getting up-close-and-personal with hard, immovable surfaces. Over 200,000 jaw and mouth injuries occur each year, many of them during the course of contact sports. Many such injuries happen when the lower jaw is slammed up into the upper jaw. Mouthguards keep the soft tissue is away from the teeth, and the upper and lower teeth are away from each other.
In the event of a dental emergency, which would include teeth that have been knocked out (avulsed), fractured, or loosened, it’s important to get to a dentist right away. Quick action can mean the difference between losing a tooth or saving it.
Prevention is best
Of course, the better course of action is prevention, so be sure to use a mouthguard. There are a couple of different types. You could purchase a stock mouthguard, which is the cheapest option. However, you won’t get as much protection with this type of mouthguard, because it’s adjustment capabilities are limited. Also, it might interfere with breathing or speech, because the jaw has to be closed in order for it to be held in place.
The mid-range solution would be a mouth-formed protector. Also called boil and bite liners, they work by conforming to the athlete’s teeth when placed in the mouth.
The best option is a custom made mouthguard. Your dentist can help you with this. It provides the best possible protection, because it is created using a mold of your own teeth.
Caring for your mouthguard
Mouthguards are easily cared for by washing with soap and water, and soaking in mouthwash. They should not be left directly in sunlight or close to a heat source. A plastic storage box that has several air holes is the best place to store your mouthguard.