For such a small piece of equipment, mouthguards certainly can generate their fair share of confusion. What kind of mouthguard will be best? What size do I need? Should I buy a mouthguard made specifically for my sport?
This resource is here to answer all of those questions and more, breaking the process down into five simple categories:
- Picking your style.
- Finding a mouthguard that keeps you comfortable and
- Paying attention to certifications.
- Looking for features suited to your sport and how you play it.
- Closing it all up in the right case.
1. Pick the Right Style of Mouthguard
Before we can even begin talking about things like features and certifications, there’s something else we need to start with—mouthguard type.
Broadly, there are three types of mouthguards available:
i) Ready-Made Mouthguards
Also called “instant fit mouthguards”, these are ready to go out of the box and don’t need to be altered to fit your mouth. This makes them easy to put in and take out, though it can also make them bulkier and less secure.
Braces-compatible mouthguards typically fall under this category.
ii) Mouth-Adapted Mouthguards
Also known as boil-and-bite mouthguards, these are by far the most popular. They are designed so users can adapt the fit at home by putting the mouthguard in hot water to soften the inner layer before placing it over their teeth and gums to set the shape.
What makes mouth-adapted mouthguards the preferred choice among athletes (amateur and professional alike) is that, quite frankly, they give wearers the best of both worlds. On the one hand, they are not too expensive and are readily accessible from sporting goods and equipment retailers. On the other, they still give users the opportunity to tailor their mouthguard to get a better fit.
iii) Custom-Fit Mouthguards
These types of mouthguards usually need to be moulded to your teeth by a dental professional and, as a result, come with the highest price tags.
2. Select a Mouthguard That Fits Comfortably and Keeps You Protected
Your mouthguard should never force you to choose between comfort and protection. You should always have both.
When assessing the fit of your mouthguard, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I able to breathe and speak without difficulty? To determine this, simply put your mouthguard in and go about your day as normal. If your mouthguard prevents you from holding a conversation with someone or makes it hard to breathe, it’s not the right fit for you.
- Does my mouthguard fit securely? You shouldn’t need to clench your teeth to keep a well-fitted mouthguard in place, nor should you be able to loosen it easily with your tongue.
- How much coverage does your mouthguard provide? Your mouthguard should end somewhere between your first and second molar and should cover all of your teeth (back molars excluded) and some of your gum. If it overwhelms your upper jaw, extends too far back, or comes into too much contact with your soft palate, it will be uncomfortable and can cause you to gag.
Remember that how well your mouthguard fits doesn’t just impact how you feel while you’re wearing it. An uncomfortable, unsecure mouthguard that needs to be constantly adjusted will also be an irritating distraction, taking your focus away from the game and negatively affecting your performance.
Questions about keeping your mouthguard clean? Check out our blog to learn three simple actions you can take.
3. Ensure Your Mouthguard Is Compliant with Safety Regulations and Doesn’t Contain Hazardous Materials
The safety regulations you need to know and watch for will vary depending on where you live. All personal protective equipment like mouthguards sold in Europe, for example, must be CE certified. There are no specific requirements for mouthguards in other jurisdictions like the US or Canada, though many manufacturers will still display the CE symbol to highlight that their products have undergone rigorous testing.
To acquire CE certification, mouthguards must be both impact and innocuous tested:
- Impact testing measures, in essence, the amount of energy that is transferred through the mouthguard to your teeth if you sustain a blow. The better the mouthguard is at absorbing shock and diffusing impact, the more protected you will be.
- CE-certified mouthguards also undergo chemical analyses to ensure the materials they are made with are innocuous and won’t harm users. A variety of tests are conducted to confirm chemicals present in the material won’t leach into a person’s body in dangerous quantities, that toxic elements can’t be scraped off due to biting or licking, and that certain PAHs either aren’t there or are found in very minimal quantities.
Other compounds that shouldn’t be present include Formamide, BPA, and Pthalate (DEHP). These aren’t tested for during the CE approval process, though you should be able to find the information on a manufacturer’s website or contact them for clarification.
4. Look for a Mouthguard with Features Suited to the Sport You Play and How You Play It
In addition to finding a colour or pattern you like, there are some functional (and feature-related) questions you need to think about:
- Is your sport a contact or a non-contact one? MMA fighters and boxers might expect to need a higher degree of defence than a field hockey player might.
- Do you wear any additional gear on your head like a helmet? If so, you may want to look for a strapped or convertible mouthguard (a convertible mouthguard being one with which the strap can be taken on and off as needed).
- Do you have braces? Find a braces-compatible mouthguard to protect both your teeth and the braces themselves.
It’s crucial to emphasise that, although individuals each have their own needs and preferences, all athletes—regardless of sport, age, or skill level—need to wear a mouthguard during practice or play.
5. Close It All Up with the Right Mouthguard Case
Due to their small size, it can be all too easy to toss your mouthguard into your kit after a game and lose track of it in a bag crowded with jerseys, gloves, shoes, and helmets. Using a case can not only make it easier to find your mouthguard when you need it, but it also plays a critical role in keeping your mouthguard clean.
When deciding on the case you would like to use, there are three criteria your case must meet:
- Your case needs to be breathable, with vents that allow your mouthguard to dry after each use.
- It should be resilient if it’s dropped. If you have to toss your bag into a locker or onto a shelf, you want to know that your case isn’t going to snap open and your mouthguard won’t fall out. As part of the CE approval process, mouthguard cases are drop tested to ensure they are secure.
- It needs to be the correct size. Particularly if the case is too small, you will likely have trouble keeping it closed.
Many mouthguards come with cases (CE-approved mouthguards are required to in fact), though manufacturers may also produce anti-microbial mouthguard cases that you can choose to purchase separately if you would like.
Is It Time to Replace Your Mouthguard?
Signs that it’s time to start looking for a new mouthguard include:
- There are irreparable flaws. BOIL & BITE™ mouthguards can often be remoulded more than once to adjust the shape, however re-forming them will not address structural issues like cracks.
- Your mouthguard no longer fits securely in your mouth. If you have to clench your teeth to keep your mouthguard in place or can loosen it easily with your tongue, it no longer fits you as it should.
- The shape of your mouth has changed. Whether you have had dental treatments or are simply still growing, it’s important that you have a mouthguard that fits your mouth properly.
Even if your mouthguard doesn’t have any visible problems, we recommend replacing it with each season to maximize hygiene and ensure it will perform its best when you need it.
At Makura Sport, our mission is simple: to provide you with mouthguards that exceed expectations and make us the protection of choice for athletes around the world. Contact us today to learn more!
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