Sportsguards are a crucial piece of sports safety equipment. They protect the mouth and face in several ways, including shielding the upper teeth from impact or blows to the face, preventing the top and bottom teeth from impacting each other directly as a result of a collision or blow, and protecting the soft tissues of the mouth, particularly the cheeks, from impacts with the teeth.
Three types of sportsguards exist: ready-made, boil-and-bite, and custom.
Ready-Made Sportsguards: These are available at many drugstores or pharmacies and are usually made from plastic or hard rubber. They are the most affordable but least comfortable type of sportsguards.
Boil-and-Bite Sportsguards: Also available at drugstores or pharmacies, these guards must be heated until they become soft and pliable. Once cooled down enough to handle, the athlete bites into the guard so it shapes around their teeth. While this does create a slightly better fit than the ready-made sportsguards, boil-and-bite guards do not count as custom-made and tend to be less durable.
Custom Sportsguards: Prescribed and produced by a dentist to fit a patient's mouth exactly, these are built from a model of a patient's mouth, offering the most secure and comfortable fit. They allow the athlete to speak and breathe normally, but are the most expensive type of sportsguard.
It's important to remember that mouthguards are not just for contact sports like hockey and football. They are also recommended for "solo" or non-contact sports such as volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, mountain biking, and rollerblading.
In conclusion, while all sportsguards provide some level of protection, custom sportsguards offer the best fit and comfort, increasing the likelihood that athletes will wear them consistently and thereby reducing the risk of dental injuries.