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Mouth Guards for Sports Safety

Which type of sports mouth guard is best for you?

Not Just for Contact Sports

Mouthguards are removable mouth protectors that are considered personal protective equipment. They are used to prevent injury to the teeth, lips, tongue, face and jaw while practicing sports. In addition to protecting one's teeth, wearing a mouthguard can help prevent concussions as it acts as a shock absorber. Mouthguards aren't just for full contact sports like football and boxing. The American Dental Association recommends a mouthguard for both full contact and non-contact sports such as:

  • Gymnastics
  • Volleyball
  • Acrobatics
  • Basketball
  • Field hockey
  • Handball
  • Martial arts
  • Shot-putting
  • Skateboarding
  • Soccer
  • Skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Surfing

Types of Mouthguards

There are three types of sports mouth guards:

  • Boil-and-bite mouth guards - Boil-and-bite mouth guards are available at big-box stores or most large retail chain stores, including drug stores. These products comes in one size that involves boiling the product until the material is soft and then biting into it. Boil-and-bite mouth guards are an affordable approach to attaining a more custom fit. However, they may not fit as well as a custom made device made by a dentist.
  • Stock mouth guards - Stock mouth guards are the most affordable type of mouth guard- They are also sold at big-box stores. They typically come in three sizes: small, medium, or large. While stock mouth guards are low-cost, they may feel uncomfortable due to poor fit.
  • Custom mouth guards - Custom mouthguards are the most protective and comfortable option, but they are also the most expensive. They are made of a thermal plastic material and designed by your dentist. The process of making a custom mouthguard requires two in-office appointments. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth, send it to the dental laboratory, and have you come back for a fitting appointment to ensure it fits well. A custom mouthguard typically comes with a case for storage. For athletes with braces, custom mouthguards are strongly recommended to not only help absorb the impact of a hit to the face and mouth, but also to protect the soft tissues from cutes caused by the wires and brackets.

Mouthguard Care and Maintenance

It is important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry between uses to prolong its life. For custom-made mouthguards, the American Dental Association recommends that you:

  • Rinse your mouthguard with cool water before each use. After each use, brush and rinse it with cool water.
  • Never wrap it in a tissue or napkin. This is a common way mouthguards are accidentally thrown away
  • Never leave your mouthguard in hot water or the sun.
  • Take your mouthguard to your regularly scheduled dental checkups. Your dentist can clean, check the fit and evaluate it for wear at that time.

The Case Counts, Too

Allowing the mouth guard to air dry before storing it in a durable container prevents bacteria from growing in the closed case. To care for the mouthguard case:

  • Clean the storage case with regular dish soap twice a week. This will ensure any bacteria lingering in the case is washed away, rather than re-contaminating a freshly cleaned mouth guard.
  • Do not use the dishwasher to clean the case. The hot temperature can warp the shape.
  • Keep the container away from high heat and direct sunlight.

Mouthguard Benefits

Mouthguards protect you from sport and exercise injuries, like:

  • Cracked and broken teeth
  • Soft tissue damage like a split lip or bitten tongue
  • Knocked-out teeth

If you have any questions or concerns regarding which mouthguard is the best option for you or your children, speak with your dentist. Your BCBS FEP Dental coverage includes custom-made mouthguards. See Section 5 General Services, Miscellaneous Services in the Blue Cross Blue Shield FEP Dental benefit brochure for additional information.

Note: The information in this document is not meant to replace the advice of your dentist or another licensed healthcare professional. Talk to your dentist for any specific dental advice.