A mouthguard helps absorb the shock experienced by a blow to the face, which might otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw. A heavy collision can result in chipped or broken teeth, internal damage to a tooth, tooth loss, injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth, and, in severe cases, concussion or a broken jaw. Injuries like these can lead to long and potentially expensive treatment to restore teeth and the mouth back to normal function and appearance.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends:
Custom-made mouthguards are formed on a cast of the upper jaw, sometimes in conjunction with a cast of the lower jaw, in order to obtain even occlusal contact, and they are produced using materials appropriate to the end purpose of the mouthguards.
Bimaxillary mouthguards are worn on the upper and lower jaws with a passage for breathing in the anterior. This type of mouthguard could be considered for players in boxing, martial arts and contact sports who desire a different type of protection. They require a period of adaptation in order to be tolerated.
This type of mouthguard offers flexibility in design and construction. Blanks of different thicknesses can be laminated together in order to increase protection.
Also known as a ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard, this type is purchased ‘over-the-counter’ from outlets such as sports shops. It is softened in hot water and then formed in the mouth by finger, tongue and biting pressure. Such mouthguards fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a consequential risk of airway obstruction and are therefore not recommended. Mouth-formed ‘shell-liner’ guards, which have a rigid outer layer and a soft thermoplastic inner layer, are also available. Shell-liner guards are also not recommended as the hard outer layer may amplify the impact force and cause injury.
A stock mouthguard consists of a curved trough of plastics or rubber and is worn without modification or adaptation, i.e. an “off-the-shelf’ mouthguard. Such mouthguards also fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a consequential risk of airway obstruction and are therefore not recommended