Custom mouthguards are a good option for those looking to protect their teeth, and can be used for sports or other applications such as for protection during sleep against teeth grinding.
A well-fitted, custom made mouthguard can protect your teeth and jaw by limiting the impact from contact and reducing the risk of damage to your teeth. Without one, sportspeople run the risk of damaging, chipping, breaking, or even knocking out their teeth, which can be a painful and costly problem to fix.
Ultimately, a mouth guard can protect your teeth just as much as it can protect your confidence in your smile.
What is a custom mouthguard?
A custom mouth guard is a thick piece of plastic that sits snugly around your teeth, protecting them from damage.
There are mouth guards that you can buy ‘off the shelf’ at pharmacies and sports stores, however these are not made specifically for your teeth, and are therefore usually not a very good fit. While they will offer more protection than nothing, they are not the gold standard when it comes to mouthguards.
Similarly, boil-and-bite mouthguards are available to buy over the counter. For these, you would boil the pre-made mouthguard in water to soften the plastic, then bite into it. This is a step up from one-size-fits-all mouthguards, but is not as fitted or protective as custom mouthguards.
The gold standard in mouthguards are custom made by a dentist or dental professional.
These are made by taking impressions of your teeth and gums, and having the mouthguard made to your exact mouth. This means every tooth will sit close against the mouth guard, leaving no room for it to move.
Sports mouthguards are most often used for contact sports, such as rugby or hockey. Players can (and do) receive knocks to the face that can easily damage teeth, which is why custom mouth guards are an essential piece of safety gear.
Mouthguards are also sometimes used for other applications, such as for those who grind their teeth in their sleep (bruxism). This common issue can wear away teeth over time, so a mouthguard will help to prevent that damage.
How does a dental mouthguard work?
You will either be required to wear a custom mouthguard to play your chosen sport, or your dentist might recommend one to help protect your teeth during sleep if you have bruxism.
During your mouthguard appointment, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth. To do this, you will bite down into a soft clay-like material, and hold this pose for a minute or two. The dentist will remove the new impression and send it away to a lab.
It will usually take a week or two for the lab to create a custom made mouthguard for your teeth. They will work with instructions from your dentist, which could mean adding a hard insert for very high impact sports.
Once the mouthguard is ready, you will return to your dentist to pick it up and ensure it fits well.
Your custom mouthguard should last up to five years, but it’s important to bring it to future dental check-ups so your dentist can check and ensure its strength and integrity. If you wear it often for regular sports, they may advise you to replace it as much as once per year.
The benefits of a custom-fitted mouthguard
A mouthguard fitted by a dentist is good insurance against the possible costs of reconstructive surgery or emergency dental work from a sports accident. It will also help to avoid the pain and trauma of any accidents, time off from sports as you heal, and the loss of confidence if the damage affects your smile.
Custom mouthguards ensure you can breathe properly, absorb any shock of impact to your teeth and jaws, and are retained well in your mouth. They are more durable than over-the-counter options, plus you can customise them even further with your team colours, name-tags, or pictures.
Can custom-fitted mouthguards help with snoring?
If snoring means you or your partner are kept awake during the night, you should first check with your general practitioner in case obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the cause. It's important to get a diagnosis, as OSA can be dangerous and lead to accidents due to lack of sleep.
If you have obstructive sleep apnoea and it’s not severe, your National Dental Care dentist may suggest a custom-fitted mouthguard that will help prevent snoring. These oral appliances are used in conjunction with other methods of treatment including assisting weight loss, exercise, and adjusting your sleeping position.
Advantages of a custom mouthguard
Custom mouthguards are extremely useful for keeping your teeth and gums in good condition, even when playing contact sports.
- Minimises and avoids damage
Custom-made mouthguards are the gold standard in minimising and avoiding damage from sports-related injuries, as their tight fit ensures teeth have a good layer of protection and that they can’t move during an impact.
- Comfortable wear
When a mouthguard is made specifically for your mouth, it is more comfortable to wear, and makes it easier to breathe than a non-custom mouthguard.
- Avoids costly, painful repairs
From chipped and broken teeth to knocked out teeth that require emergency dental treatment, a custom mouthguard can help to avoid the pain and trauma as well as the cost of getting these issues fixed.
How much does a custom mouthguard cost?
Custom mouthguards in Australia typically cost around $200 to $300.
It’s best to consider them as a vital piece of sports safety equipment, much like a helmet, shin pads, or wrist guards. Then investment of a custom mouthguard can avoid much more costly dental treatments in the future.
The cost of a custom mouthguard will vary depending on the type of mouthguard (some have additional hard inserts), whether you have added features such as a certain colour on your guard, and the dentist office itself.
What to expect from your custom mouthguard appointment
Getting a custom mouthguard is one of the quickest and easiest dental appointments you’ll ever go to. Here’s what to expect:
- Brush and floss before your appointment
- Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth with a special clay
- They will remove the clay impressions and your appointment is finished
- You’ll be in and out within 20 minutes
- It will take a week or two for the lab to create your custom mouthguard
- You will return to your dentist to pick up the mouthguard and ensure it fits well
If you need a custom mouthguard to play sports, contact your dentist to have one made.
Find your nearest dental office and get in touch today to schedule an appointment.