Mouthguards

When athletes are surveyed as to why they don’t wear mouthguards, results indicate participants believe their mouthguards will affect their breathing. However, Rapisura, Coburn, Brown, and Kersey recently tested two types of mouthguards with female athletes and found there was no effect on aerobic performance with their subjects with either the custom or prefabricated mouthguards they tested.34

When considering recommendations, an ideal mouthguard should follow the following recommendations outlined by the Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD):

The fitting of a mouthguard is best accomplished under the supervision or direction of a dentist. The athlete and/or parents should always be advised of the special design for the “properly fitted mouthguard” and the end product should have the following properties and considerations:

  • It should be fabricated to adequately cover and protect both the teeth in the arch, and the surrounding tissues.
  • It should be fabricated on a stone model taken from an impression of the athlete.
  • Adequate thickness in all areas to provide for the reduction of impact forces. In particular, a minimum of 3mm thickness in the occlusal/labial area.
  • It should have a seated equilibrated occlusion that is balanced for even occlusal contact. This helps to provide for the ideal absorption of impact energy.
  • A fit that is retentive and not dislodged on impact.
  • Speech considerations equal to the demands of the playing status of the athlete.
  • A material that meets FDA approval.
  • In addition, a properly fitted guard should provide protection and be fabricated to fit on the leading arch.38

The properly fitted mouthguard should be routinely and professionally examined for fit and function. Frequency of routine inspection is dependent on factors such as the athlete’s age, the demand of the sport that the athlete is engaged in, and the willingness for the athlete to properly care for the appliance. The frequency of the inspection should be determined by the dental professional for each individual situation and athlete.

Mouthguards typically are made of thermoplastic copolymer and designed to fit over occlusal and facial surfaces of the maxillary teeth and gingival tissues.36 The American Society for Testing and Materials and the manufacturers of mouthguards have classified the mouthguards into three types:

  • Stock Mouthguards
  • Mouth-Formed Protectors
  • Custom Made Mouthguards