Weston’s first dentist Stephen J. Pyle offers up his insights on how to select a sports guard that offers the best protection. Everybody, including The Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association agree that sports guards should be worn by anybody, child or adult, who participates in an activity where there is a risk of the face coming into contact with a hard surface.
The purpose of the sports guard is to provide a level of protection for both teeth and gum in the event the mouth is struck. Use of a properly fitted sports guard can protect against teeth being misaligned, chipped, pulled out or forced down into the gum. Obviously when there is trauma to the teeth the gum will also be affected.
Obvious examples of where sports guards should be used are the contact sports like football, hockey, basketball and soccer but your mouth and teeth are still at risk with non-contact activities like skate boarding, roller skating and horseback riding. Wherever there is a possibility of a fall there is a possibility of damaging your mouth.
Types and Characteristics of Sports Guards
Ideally a sports guard should fit your mouth, not interfere with breathing and not interfere with speaking. Basically there are three types of guards available:
- Stock sports guards. These are the least expensive of the guards and are widely available in sporting goods shops and big box stores. They are basically curved troughs made of plastic and are commonly found attached to “starter” football helmets for kids. They come in small, medium and large and offer no customization. They rarely fit well, can obstruct breathing and fall out when the mouth is opened.
- Boil and Bite. These guards are boiled in water to make the material malleable. The user then bites down on the guard to give it some measure of customization. These guards are also widely available at sporting goods stores and department stores. They offer better fit and protection than stock guards but can impair breathing. They also have a shorter service life than a stock guard.
- Custom Fit. These guards are fabricated by your dentist from a full mouth impression. Custom fit guards offer the greatest protection to teeth and jaw, are without question the most comfortable to wear, can accommodate braces and do not interfere with breathing or speaking. They are also the most durable of the three classes of guards.
At our Weston dental practice we offer a full line of family dental services including custom sports guards for kids and adults. If you or your children can use a sports guard to better protect your mouth give us a call today and set up an appointment. We’ll be happy to see you.