Sports mouth guards protect against dental injuries

What are sports mouth guards?

Sports and athletic mouth guards are devices used to protect the teeth, gums, and soft tissues of the mouth from sports-related injuries. The American Dental Association recommends people of all ages use a mouth guard if they are participating in contact sports or other activities that could cause mouth or dental injury.

Occlusal guards, or nightguards, which are used to prevent clenching and bruxism, as well as sleep apnea devices, are sometimes associated with the mouth guard category. However, these are separate oral devices used for a different purpose. (You can read more about nightguards on our blog too.)

Who needs a sports mouth guard?

Sports mouth guards are for people of all ages who participate in an activity that poses a risk of damaging the mouth.

In short, a sports mouth guard is recommended if you play contact sports. This includes: football, soccer, hockey, basketball, and wrestling. Sports mouthguards can also be used for other non-contact sports and activities that may cause damage to the mouth, like gymnastics, rodeo, volleyball, biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, and skiing.

Types of sports mouth guards

  1. Stock (ready-made): Ready-made mouth guards are the least expensive and most commonly available. They are usually available at retail and sporting goods stores and don’t require any further forming or visit to the dentist. Stock mouth guards come in a range of sizes and are not personalized for each individual mouth.
  2. Mouth formed (boil and bite): These self-adapting mouth guards get soft when placed in hot water and then form to the wearer's mouth through bite pressure. These are also available at many retail and sporting goods stores.
  3. Custom mouth guards: These mouth guards are created in a dental office or laboratory from a patient’s bite impressions. A custom mouth guard provides the best fit, comfort, and efficiency, but is also the most expensive option and require dental visits.

Comfort is also important to keep in mind when choosing because a mouth guard only works if it is worn.

Frequently asked questions

  • If I have braces, can I wear a sports mouth guard?

Yes! It is important to wear a mouth guard if you play sports and wear braces. Mouth guards will protect your teeth and prevent the braces from tearing your lips, cheeks, and tongue.

Stock and mouth-formed mouth guards designed for wear with braces are available, but most dentists will recommend a custom-made guard for the most comfortable fit. These mouth guards will need adjustments as the braces begin to change your teeth alignment. Your orthodontist or dentist can make the mouth guard and monitor its fit over time.

  • Do mouthguards prevent injuries?

Yes! Studies show that mouth guards can help prevent serious dental injuries, like broken and knocked out teeth and jaw fractures, as well as injuries to your lips, tongue, cheeks and jaws.

  • How should I care for a mouth guard?

Clean it regularly with soap and warm water and soak it in alcohol-free mouthwash. You can also prevent bacteria from growing by always storing it in a ventilated case when not in use so that it stays dry.

Like a toothbrush, your mouth guard can wear out, so it is important to check for wear and tear. We recommend bringing your mouth guard to your dental appointments so your dentist can check it for fit and wear to determine if it needs replacement.

Final thoughts

Sports mouth guards are an important piece of equipment for anyone involved in activities that have a risk of getting hit in the face or mouth by a ball, stick, puck, flying body part, or face plant into the ground.

The most effective sports mouth guard is one you will wear. It should be comfortable, durable, fit properly, be easy to clean, and not restrict speech or breathing.

Broken or knocked-out teeth do not grow back. Protect your smile and wear a mouth guard!