A mouthguard (also known as a mouth protector, mouth piece, gumshield, gumguard 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.
An early mouthguard was developed in 1890 by Woolf Krauze, a London dentist to protect boxers from lip cuts and lacerations. The modern mouthguard design started from the work in the 1970s done by Dr. A. W. S. Wood, a Canadian pediatric dentist who was aiming to reduce and prevent harm injuries to children's teeth in ice hockey games.
Each year, more than three and a half million children, aged 14 and under are injured while playing sports or participating in recreational activities (USA).
Mouthguards are used in sports where deliberate or accidental impacts to the face and jaw may cause harm. Such impacts may occur in many sports including: baseball, boxing, mixed martial arts, puroresu, rugby, wrestling, football (soccer), American football, Australian football, lacrosse, basketball, figure skating, hockey, underwater hockey, Field Hockey water polo, skiing, and snowboarding.
Mouthguards may also prevent or reduce harm levels of concussion in the event of an injury to the jaw. In many sports, the rules of the sport make their use compulsory, or local health laws demand them. Schools also often have rules requiring their use. Studies in various high risk populations for dental injuries are repeatedly reporting of a low compliance of individuals for the regular using of mouthguard during activities. Moreover, even with regular use, effectiveness in prevention on dental trauma is not complete, and injuries can still occur even when mouthguards are used as users are not always aware of the best makes or size, which inevitably result in a poor ﬁt.
As part of the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual back-to-school health promotion, when some 6 million high school students plan their participation in team sports, both health organizations remind parents that the use of mouthguards can help protect children from mouth injuries.
Mouthguards help cushion blows that might otherwise cause broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. They also may reduce the severity and incidence of concussions. If a child wears braces or another fixed dental appliance on their lower jaw, the dentist may suggest a mouth protector for those teeth as well.
Kids suffer thousands of injuries each year on the playing field, the basketball court or while skateboarding, biking or during other activities.
"Injuries to the face from participating in a sport or other recreational activity can harm your child's teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue, but a properly fitted mouthguard can help protect your child's smile," says Edmond Hewlett, D.D.S., an ADA consumer advisor and associate professor at UCLA's School of Dentistry.
"In addition to mouthguards, be sure your child wears all the appropriate protective dental supplies made for their sport, such as shin pads, wrist guards, eye protection, and helmet, adds AAP President Carol Berkowitz, M.D., FAAP. Always consult your pediatrician on the sport that is right for your child's age and abilities."