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The Differences Between Store-Bought and Custom-Fit Mouthguards

September 9, 2022 / DENTISTRY

If you or your child participate in team sports, chances are you’ve either encountered a mouth injury or know someone who has.

We’ve all seen the grin of a professional hockey player with large gaps between their teeth. This is something that can often be avoided by using a mouthguard when you play.

What is a mouthguard and why do I need one?

Sports mouthguards are worn in the mouth to protect the teeth, gums, and jaw from being injured during sports. When they were first introduced, these devises were only used for high impact, contact sports like football, boxing, and hockey, but that has changed. With increased awareness of the benefits of wearing mouthguards and the potential for injury from sports like martial arts, skiing and skateboarding, the use of mouthguards is now more common than ever.

Mouthguards provide a barrier between your teeth and the tissues that surround them, so if your mouth ever sustains a heavy impact like a fast-moving elbow or hockey puck, you have an extra layer of protection. They also act as a shock-absorber to protect the head and neck from impact-related injuries like whiplash.

People often choose a store-bought mouthguard over a custom-fit mouthguard made by their family dentist without knowing the difference between the two options.

Store-bought mouthguards

You can find generic, one-size fits all mouthguards at your local sports store or pharmacy, and if this is your only option, it is better than nothing. These are far less expensive than custom-fit mouthguards and they are easy to find if you’re ever in a pinch.

Unfortunately, because these mouthguards were not custom fit to the size and shape of your mouth, they are not as effective in protecting the teeth from injury. Plus, users report that they’re large and bulky, making them less comfortable to wear than the custom-made alternative.

An improvement to the one-size fits all option is something called a boil-and-bite mouthguard. Essentially, this is a store-bought option made of a pliable material that, when dropped in hot water, softens to allow the wearer to bite down into a mold to create an option that more closely fits your teeth. These are slightly more expensive than the other store-bought option, and they don’t tend to last as long.

Custom-fit mouthguards

If you play sports regularly, we highly recommend investing in a custom-fit mouthguard to protect your mouth and teeth from injury. While they are more expensive than the store-bought options, custom-fit mouthguards are more comfortable, longer-lasting, and provide far better protection than the options mentioned above.

Are you an athlete that wants to protect their teeth while they play? Call your family dentist in Caledon today. We’ll walk you through your options and determine whether a custom-fit sports mouthguard is right for you.