“ An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure “
--- Old English Proverb
Accidents happen. This person had a swimming pool accident and managed to lose an upper incisor baby tooth. Two lower baby teeth were lost naturally. Not all accidents can be prevented. Mouth Guards are generally NOT worn while swimming.
Washington, DC., is home of the Washington Nationals. Many sports teams use Mouth Guards. Baseball however is one of the sports where again the use of Mouth Guard is not very widespread. Photo taken May 2008. Nationals vs.the Philadelphia Phillies
A simple stock over-the-counter Mouth Guard. The strap from the lower portion allows it to be secured to a helmet if needed. It can also be clipped off if not needed.
Sports mouth guards are soft
rubber or plastic appliances which are worn in the mouth to help prevent injures
to the teeth and gums. Just as
automotive seat belts can help prevent injuries, Mouth Guards can cushion an accidental blow to the face
helping to prevent or minimize injury to the teeth, jaws, and gums. Mouth
Guards are not just for Hockey Players.
A somewhat more robust ready-made Mouth Guard. This example is particularly well constructed with solid materials, and a substantial opening to allow easier breathing and speech. This Mouth Guard is courtesy of Specialty Orthodontics of Chicago, IIllinois.
Falling off a skate board, or
an elbow to the face are common accidents, and without a mouth guard, injuries.
There are three basic types of Mouth Guards, but for Orthodontic patients who
are wearing braces, the requirements for proper protection may be a little
Type I Common ready-made stock off-the-shelf Mouth Guard.
A plastic Study Model demonstrates how a Mouth Guard provides protection while allowing breathing and speech. This over-the-counter Mouth Guard is far more substantial than the orange Mouth Guard example shown earlier.
From this perspective one can easily visualize how the Mouth Guard also protects the upper and lower teeth from grinding or hitting one another. Mouth Guard courtesy of Specialty Orthodontics of Chicago, Illinois.
Large Department Store chains such as Target often have a very large selection of read-made over-the-counter Mouth Guards available.
The sporting goods section is where Mouth Guards are most likely to be located.
This is just part of the Sports Mouth Guard selection typically available at a Target Department store.
Made of rubber or polyvinyl
materials, such preformed Mouth Guards may not provide as accurate a fit as a
much more expensive custom appliance made by a dentist. However, such
off-the-shelf appliances often are more than enough to provide sufficient
protection for many sports and leisure activities.
Patients with Braces frequently use this type of
appliance because the teeth are
undergoing movement and the orthodontic brackets which are attached to the
teeth will not be knocked loose or traumatized.
Patients who are using clear aligners such as Invisalign may wish to use
such an appliance as well because the orthodontic movement of the aligners will
not be adversely affected. More
information on what types of ports Mouth Guards an Orthodontic Patient should
consider is provided in a later discussion in a section a little further down the page here.
Look closely at the Model and you will be able to see a clear Invisalign Aligner. The Invisalign appliance is compatible with being simultaneously worn with an over-the-counter Mouth Guard.
Type II Mouth-Formed semi custom Mouth Guards
One step up and a little more
expensive than the Type I Mouth Guards are Type II appliances which can be
soaked in warm or hot water so that they change shape and therefore can be
adapted to a person’s mouth. Sometimes called " boil-and-bite" Mouth Guards, these appliances are made of thermoplastic or acrylic
gel materials. When softened in hot water they can be adapted to the teeth and
This is a "Boil and Bite" style thermal forming Mouth Guard. All Braces must be off when such guards are adapted. This example courtesy of Sports Cheer sporting goods store in Leesburg, VA
If you do not wear braces, or
use Invisalign style clear aligners, then this style of mouth guards is also
quite acceptable. The costs, while not as low as Type I appliances, are still
very reasonable. It does require some manipulation and contouring after dunking
in hot water. For less hassle and
effort, if a Type I ready-made off-the-shelf appliance can capably do the job,
then a mouth formed appliance may not a better choice.
A patient with Braces may NOT want to use this type of
mouth guard at all as the soft
plastic would envelop itself around the braces and wires. Once formed and
cooled, the thermo-formed appliance may then prove difficult or impossible to
remove. Orthodontic brackets ( braces ) may end up getting ripped loose, and
wires may become distorted.
Type III Custom-Made completely form-fitting Mouth
Washington Nationals up to bat. Whether Mouth Guards are being used is uncertain.
A baseball hit by a Philadelphia Phillies hitter bounces off the wall at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Hopefully the ball ends up in the glove and not in the face, of this Nationals outfielder Number 34.
Type III custom
made mouth guards are the most expensive
because they requite that your Family
Dentist or Orthodontist make a custom mold of your teeth and a subsequent working cast model.
Custom made Mouth Guards require the Dentist or Orthodontist to make a mold and a subsequent working model, Fabrication of a high quality custom Mouth Guards requires an accurate model.
With such a tight fit, such
mouth guards are generally not recommended
for orthodontic patients because they would prevent orthodontic movement
of the teeth. Another concern is that the mouth guard would not be able to
adapt itself very readily over the braces and wires which are attached to the
Many factors including costs,
whether both upper and lower teeth are having
orthodontic treatment, and whether Invisalign style appliances are being
A Mouth Guard should:
Easy Breathing and Speech are made possible by the generous front opening of this Mouth Guard.
Allow easy breathing
Be able to be quickly removed
Be comfortable to wear
Be rugged enough so that it
does not tear or break
Fit well and not be loose or
Not all sports or competitive
activities require wearing a mouth guard. On the other hand, many sports REQUIRE that
mouth guards be worn. Local and state
public health laws, as well as school and University guidelines may dictate the
mandatory use of Mouth Guards.
The American Dental
association in a 2004 publication ( Journal of the American dental Association,
July 2004, page 1061) outlines some common sports for which a mouth guard may
Here is a suggested list, in alphabetical order, of sports & activities for which Mouth Guards are recommended. This list is published by the American Denal Association (ADA).
Washington, D.C. Mystics Women's Basketball Team. Mouth Guards are recommended for Basketball
Equestrian Activities warrant Mouth Guards for the Rider. The horse is probably okay as is with no additional mouth protection.
Football, like hockey, seems a natural application for using Sports Mouth Guards. Here the mighty University of Michigan Wolverine football team faces the equally mighty Michigan State Spartan football team on first and goal. Photo taken Fall of 2007 in East Lansing.
Professional Football Teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins are very familiar with Mouth Guards.
Lacrosse can be a very hard contact sport. Mouth Guards are definitely recommended whether you have Braces or not.
Surf's up. And what about Sports Mouth Guards ? Hmmm...
In summary, regardless of which style of Mouth Guard you choose to wear, persons involved in sports or other types of leisure activities should wear mouth protection. Whenever there exists the possibility of trauma to the mouth, chin, or other parts of the head, a Type I, II, or III Mouth Guard should be worn. Ask you dental professional for advice regarding your particular needs.
TO BE CONTINUED ............................................