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Athletic Mouthguards

Wearing mouthguards while participating in sports protects more than your teeth.

Do dentists recommend mouthguards?

Yes. The Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends that male and female athletes in any sport -- including football, basketball, softball and soccer wear a custom-fitted mouthguard made by a dentist. The advantages of wearing a mouthguard are that the device can protect the jawbone, teeth, lips and cheeks from injury.

Thicker mouthguards can also help absorb shock, and in certain circumstances, may help prevent a concussion.

Custom-fitted appliances are designed for the upper teeth and are comfortable to wear. The Academy's position is that for mouthguards to be effective, they need to be "properly fitted and properly worn." If this is done, an athlete should be able to fully participate in the sport.

Are mouthguards mandated for sports?

According to the Academy, mouthguards are mandated in every state for high school football, hockey, men's lacrosse, field hockey and boxing. Some states also have mandated the appliance for other sports. There are a growing number of youngsters competing in sports. Mouthguards have proven to be an effective device in protecting the upper front teeth, which are most often injured during sports.

The American Dental Association (ADA) and the International Academy of Sports Dentistry (IASD) recommend mouthguards for the following sports:

Martial ArtsSoftball/BaseballTrack and Field
Ice HockeyField HockeyInline Skating
LacrosseWeight LiftingRacquetball
BoxingGymnasticsWater Polo

What types of mouthguards are available?

There are three different types of mouthguards available for the consumer:

  1. Over-the-counter mouthguards are pre-made, inexpensive and available in stores. Dentists do not recommend them because they are often uncomfortable and don't fit properly.
  2. Boil and bite mouthguards are available in stores and are fitted to an individual's mouth. Also inexpensive, they are customized by dropping the device into hot water and molding it to the mouth. The drawback to this mouthguard is that a person may get burned by hot water and they don't always fit properly.
  3. Custom mouthguards are only available from a dentist. They are the only protective mouthpieces recommended by the academy. Custom mouthguards are the most expensive of the three options, but fit the best because a dentist takes a mold of the athlete's mouth. They generally last about one year in young adults.

Can individuals with braces wear mouthguards?

Mouthguards are very effective in protecting the teeth and oral tissue in individuals who wear them.

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