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What is a mouthguard and why do I need one?

posted on 5-9-18

It is important to protect your face and mouth at all times, especially during the spring, when several high-impact sports are in full swing, and when you and your family are preparing for a summer full of activity. Since now is the perfect time to discuss the importance of mouthguards, we’ve put some helpful information together to get you started.

What is a mouthguard?

Let’s start with the basics. A mouthguard is a covering worn over the teeth and oral appliances, often used to protect the teeth and mouth from injury due to sports. They are also recommended when you grind your teeth in your sleep. There are three common types of mouthguards:

Stock mouthguard

A stock mouthguard is ready-to-wear protection. They are typically inexpensive and can be found at most sporting goods stores. While they are the least adjustable when it comes to fit, often they are the best kind when someome has braces because their teeth are constantly changing.  .

Boil and bite mouthguard

A boil and bite mouthguard can also be bought at sporting goods stores. They are more adjustable than stock mouthguards, as they are made from thermoplastic material. The guard is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using pressure from your fingers and tongue. We don’t recommend a boil and bite mouthguard if you have any orthodontic appliances, as they may not provide proper protection, and may not form correctly around them.

Custom-fitted mouthguard

A custom-fitted mouthguard is individually designed and made with the instructions of an orthodontist or dentist at the office itself or in a professional laboratory. First, your orthodontist will take an impression or scan of your teeth, then the mouthguard is molded from that impression. This type of mouthguard is more expensive, as it requires extra time to make, and uses specialized materials. This option provides the most comfort and protection for your mouth and teeth and is best to use once your orthodontic treatment is complete.

Why do I need a mouthguard?

You need a mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury during exercise or other sports activity. An active lifestyle is important for overall health, but many sports activities increase the risk of head and facial injury. A mouthguard is essential to minimizing risk of injury to the mouth, lips, teeth and jaw. Some injuries that a mouthguard can help prevent are:

  1. Knocked out teeth
  2. Broken/cracked teeth
  3. Displaced/moved teeth
  4. Soft tissue injuries to the mouth
  5. Jaw fractures

And those are just injuries to the teeth and mouth. It is suggested that a mouthguard can help reduce neck injury and potentially reduce the risk of a concussion as well.

Mouthguards also protect orthodontic appliances from being damaged during sports. A mouthguard can prevent a bent wire on your braces or retainer, a popped bracket, cracks in aligners, or other damage that your orthodontic appliances may suffer during sports.


A mouthguard is an essential part of protecting your face, teeth, and orthodontic appliances during exercise and sports activity. They reduce the risk of injury to the face, and damage to orthodontic appliances. If you or your child is preparing for, or involved in sports or high impact exercise, please ask your orthodontist about getting a mouthguard.

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