Trying to decide if owning a store bought mouth guard or a custom sports mouth guard is worth the money?
Injury to the teeth, jaw bones, tongue, cheeks, and lips is a significant risk when playing sports. Injuries of this nature are most common when playing contact sports such as hockey or football, but it is important to protect one’s teeth when playing any sport, as these injuries are still at risk of occurring.
For instance, even though baseball and basketball are not contact sports, a baseball player may take an errant ball to the mouth when batting, and a basketball player could accidentally get elbowed in the mouth when defending an opposing player who’s trying to make a basket.
The best way for athletes to protect against these types of injuries is to wear a custom-made mouth guard for his or her own upper teeth.
It is probably obvious how a mouth guard that’s worn on the teeth can protect the teeth themselves from injury, but one might ask how wearing a sports mouth guard might prevent injury to the jawbones, tongue, cheeks, or lips.
Depending on the traumatic event that precipitates the injury, the teeth themselves are actually what typically cuts or injures the cheeks, lips, or tongue. For instance, if a football player has their lower jaw bumped from underneath, the force of the lower jaw being pushed up could actually cause the tongue to get caught between the upper and lower teeth, leading to a severe injury. The tongue is extremely vascular, meaning there are a lot of blood vessels in it. If the tongue gets cut, it will bleed profusely.
As far as injuries to the jawbone, if an athlete is not wearing a mouth guard and takes a hockey puck to his upper front teeth, for instance, the angle the puck comes in at could cause the tooth or teeth to get pushed back or pushed upward, which would also cause damage to the underlying bone. If a mouth guard is worn in the same example, it will not only provide a rubber cushion or barrier between the offending object and the tooth, it also acts to splint the teeth together which makes it less likely that an object could cause one of the teeth to get pushed inward since they are all “connected” by the mouth guard.
The sports mouth guards we custom-make in our office are made in the following way. One of our dental team members takes an impression, or mold, of the patient’s upper teeth and then makes a stone model from it. Using the stone model, we have a special machine that allows us to custom-fit the rubber mouthguard material around the teeth on the model. We then trim the rubber material so that you get a perfect fit and so it’s not too bulky. For those who have worn an over-the-counter “boil-and-bite” sports mouth guard in the past, we generally hear that people find them to be overly bulky and significantly more uncomfortable than a custom-made mouth guard made in a dental office.