In contact sports, it is common (and wise) to wear a sports mouthguard to protect your teeth. Without these guards, teeth may become chipped, cracked, or broken from impacts. Determining what kind of mouthguard to buy can be a difficult choice. The most protective and comfortable guards out there are custom ones created by a neuromuscular dentist. The temptation to buy less costly ones is out there, however. Stores sell generic bite guards for only a few dollars, or a person can order “boil and bite” guards for a slightly better fit. Choosing generic models for your oral protection may cost you in other ways.
Leaving Posterior Teeth Exposed
The generic mouthguards sold in stores come in sizes ranging from small to large, and sometimes extra large. They do not account for every mouth being a different shape. In many cases, a guard that fits the front teeth will not extend back far enough in the mouth to cover all of the molars. The “boil and bite” guards are also often too short to offer maximum protection, leaving your back teeth vulnerable. Even though they are in the back of your mouth, molars are just as likely to be damaged in a collision as front teeth.
Custom guards are created based on a mold of your individual mouth. Because they are not cut to fit a wide consumer market, they will fit both the width and length of your mouth to protect all of your teeth. Being shaped like your mouth will also mean that the guard will not slide around and leave more teeth exposed.
Discomfort Drags You Out of the Game
Nothing is more distracting during activities than discomfort. Generic guards can feel bulky in the mouth, making them difficult to breathe around. Putting more effort into breathing with a cumbersome mouthguard can mean that your head is not in the game. The movement inside of your mouth can be distracting and detract from athletic performance. Teamwork may also suffer from the ill fit. Athletes often compensate for the movement of their guard by biting down to hold it in place, making communication with teammates more difficult.
When your guard is fitted to your teeth, it stays in place without having to be consciously held there. Care is also taken to shape the guard so that it is easier to breathe around. In addition to not obstructing breathing, custom guards improve overall airflow by relaxing and aligning your jaw. Increased oxygen levels allow your body to remove lactic acid faster, increasing your stamina.
A Penny Saved is not a Penny Earned
The appeal of generic mouthguards is their price. Paying only a few dollars for a guard that may wear out faster seems like a good choice compared to the alternative. What many people do not consider right away is the physical and financial cost of painful dental injuries suffered from insufficient protection. A dental injury can eliminate an athlete from the rest of the game. On top of the frustration of missing a game, filling or crowning a chipped tooth often costs more than custom mouthguards.
Compromising on your oral health may disrupt your game. To learn more about what a custom mouthguard can do to improve your athletic performance, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver neuromuscular dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.