A mouthguard (also known as a mouth protector, mouth piece, gumshield or nightguard ) is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. Mouthguards are most often used to prevent injury in contact sports, as a treatment for bruxism or TMD, or as part of certain dental procedures, such as tooth bleaching.
Types of mouthguards
Stock or ready made
Manufactured in a pre-formed shape in various sizes but with nearly no adjustment to fit the user's mouth. The only adjustment possible is minor trimming with a knife or scissors.
Mouth adapted or "boil and bite"
A thermo-plastic material manufactured in a pre-formed shape in various sizes that can be adapted to fit more closely to an individual's teeth and gums by heating and molding such as boiling then placing in the mouth. Some are now available that incorporate special fins within the fitting zones which increase retention and give an improved fit over tradition boil and bite mouth types. Guards are usually made of Ethylene-vinyl acetate. This is the most popular mouthguard used by amateur and semi-professional sportsmen, providing adequate protection but relatively low comfort in comparison to the custom made guard.
An impression of the user's teeth is used by specialist manufacturers to create a best-fit mouth protector. The impression may be obtained by specifically designed Home Impression kit from the guard manufacturer that uses dental putty, or from a dentist who will take an upper impression in dental alginate material. In Europe, the guard must be sold with a CE mark and the guard must have passed an EC Type-Examination test, performed by an accredited European Notified Body. Applying a CE mark without such certification is a criminal offence.
Who Needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards should be used by anyone -- both children and adults -- who play contact sports such as football, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey. However, even those participating in noncontact sports (for example, gymnastics) and any recreational activity (for example, skateboarding, mountain biking) that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth would benefit from wearing a protective mouth guard.
Adults and children who grind their teeth at night should have a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint made to prevent tooth damage.
Why Use a Mouth Guard When Playing Sports?
Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the advantage of using a mouth guard is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouth guards also help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.