Sports guards, mouth guards and mouth protectors are different names for the same thing: a device worn over your teeth that protects them from blows to the face and head. Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment for anyone participating in a sport that involves falls, body contact or flying equipment. This includes football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, gymnastics, mountain biking — any activity that might result in an injury to the mouth.
Mouth guards typically cover the upper teeth, and are designed to protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to your mouth. If you wear braces or other fixed dental appliances (such as a bridge) on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
What Are the Different Types of Mouth Guards?
No matter which type of mouth guard you choose, it should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should also fit properly and not restrict your speech or breathing. The three types of mouth guards are:
- Custom-made mouth guards— These are individually designed and made in the office. Not surprisingly, they are likely to provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. The doctor takes an impression of your teeth and then constructs the mouth guard over a model of them. Because they fit and feel better, most athletes prefer customized mouth guards.
- Stock mouth guards — These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and may make breathing and talking difficult.