A mouth guard is a protective device usually worn on the upper jaw only to reduce injuries to the teeth, jaws and associated soft tissues.
Types of mouth guard include:
Custom-made mouth guard
- Custom-made mouthguards are formed on a cast of the upper jaw, sometimes in conjunction with a cast of the lower jaw, in order to obtain even occlusal contact, and they are produced using materials appropriate to the end purpose of the mouthguards.
Bimaxillary mouth guards
- Bimaxillary mouthguards are worn on the upper and lower jaws with a passage for breathing in the anterior. This type of mouthguard could be considered for players in boxing, martial arts and contact sports who desire a different type of protection. They require a period of adaptation in order to be tolerated.
Laminated mouth guard
- This type of mouthguard offers flexibility in design and construction. Blanks of different thicknesses can be laminated together in order to increase protection.
Mouth-formed mouth guard
- Also known as a ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard, this type is purchased ‘over-the-counter’ from outlets such as sports shops. It is softened in hot water and then formed in the mouth by finger, tongue and biting pressure. Such mouthguards fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a consequential risk of airway obstruction 17 and are therefore not recommended. Mouth-formed ‘shell-liner’ guards, which have a rigid outer layer and a soft thermoplastic inner layer, are also available. Shell-liner guards are also not recommended as the hard outer layer may amplify the impact force and cause injury.17
Stock mouth guard
- A stock mouthguard consists of a curved trough of plastics or rubber and is worn without modification or adaptation, i.e. an ‘off-the-shelf’ mouthguard.
- Such mouthguards also fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a consequential risk of airway obstruction 17 and are therefore not recommended
What age should mouth guard wear commence?
Dental injuries are relatively common in children and their effects can be catastrophic to the developing dentition. Good habits for use of protective equipment are maximized by their early introduction; as such mouthguard wear should commence as soon as children start participating in organised sport.
Mouthguards can be made for the deciduous dentition and should be considered as a part of the sporting team uniform.
Mouthguard material should not constitute a biological or toxicological hazard with respect to infection or irritation of normal oral mucosa, and should not contain elements or components toxic to oral tissues.
NOTE: Further guidance may be found in ISO 7405, Dentistry—Preclinical evaluation of biocompatibility of medical devices used in dentistry—Test methods for dental materials and ISO 10993-1, Biological evaluation of medical devices, Part 1: Evaluation and testing
What are the Benefits of Mouth guards?
The benefits of wearing a sports mouthguard are:
- the risk of injury to the maxillary anterior teeth is considerably lessened;
- the risk of damage to the posterior teeth of either jaw following a traumatic closure of the
- mandible is reduced;
- the risk of intraoral and perioral lacerations is considerably lessened;
- the risk of tongue damage at impact is reduced;
- the risk of fracture of the body of the mandible and of the mandibular condyles is reduced;
- the risk of damage to the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint is reduced