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Smarty Mouths Wear Mouth Guards

Aug 07, 2013

Weren't retailers just stocking their shelves the day after the Fourth of July with back to school items? If school starts any earlier fall break will begin before August and thousands of school kids won’t know if they are coming or going on summer break.

Anyway, school sports will soon be front and center and you know what that means? It means it’s time to focus on useful ideas like mouth guards and teeth safety!

The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries annually in high school and collegiate football alone. And that doesn't count other sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, cross country and those raucous chess club matches.

The only thing worse than the agony of defeat after losing the big game is calling the dentist at 10 pm to say you lost the big game – and a bicuspid!  Hopefully you will never have do this if you follow these tips on choosing a mouth guard!

“Mouth guard” often is used generically and includes a large variety of over the counter products bought at sporting goods stores or those that are custom made and professionally manufactured. Mouth guards even mean the moldy, molded one found in a big brother’s closet that has turned colors that would frighten Walt Disney.

Types of Mouth Guards There are three types of mouth guards:

  • Stock – available at most sporting goods stores, these are the least expensive – and the least protective. Available in limited sizes, they're like Pop Tarts®. Just remove them from the package and pop them in your mouth. What they lack in retention though, they make up for in bulkiness. Stock mouth guards are held in place by constantly biting down, which makes it hard for guys like me to play with tongue firmly in cheek. 

  • Because they also make it hard for the wearer to speak or breathe normally, athletes often customize them by cutting them to make them more comfortable. Unfortunately this minimizes their protection even more and makes them the least favorite of dentists.

  • Boil & Bite or Gel – the most common type of mouth guard, it gets its name because you boil it for a couple of minutes, then shape the gel by biting it and by using pressure from the tongue and cheeks. The weakness to this type of mouth guard is that it loses much of its thickness during molding (70% or more), and once that’s gone so is much of its protectiveness. 

  • Sports dentists say that a mouth guard should retain labial (lip) thickness of 3mm, palatal (the area between the tongue and the hard palate posterior to the teeth ridge) of 2mm, and occlusal (biting or grinding surface of teeth) of 3mm. 
    Because of their poor fit and retention qualities, this type of mouth guard may be fine for the debate team or chess club, but aren't a good fit (see what we did there?) for contact sports.

    • Custom Made Mouth Guards – now we're talking about some serious teeth protection! Custom mouth guards are designed and fitted by a dentist who will take into account the type of sport being played, the age of the wearer and whether the wearer is undergoing orthodontic treatment. 

    • The custom made mouth guards are considered the most adaptive, retentive, comfortable and materially stable. They also are easier to talk with while inserted and don't interfere with breathing like the boil & bite and stock mouthpieces do. 

    There are two methods of fabricating custom mouth guards:

    Vacuum Forming: A thermoplastic material is heated by a vacuum machine and formed over a dental cast of the teeth fabricated by a dentist, usually of the maxillary (upper) arch.

    Pressure Lamination: This procedure uses high heat and pressure lamination over a dental cast. The combination of the high heat and pressure and the custom lamination helps the mouth guard to retain its defined thickness while worn for longer periods.

    Either forming process allows the mouth guards to be fabricated with different color combinations and esthetic designs. Of the two methods, the pressure laminated is better suited for heavier contact sports like football, hockey and any schools that are big on sumo wrestling as an extracurricular activity.

    If you do happen to have a sports accident and need to get to the dentist, Dental Insurance Store can help you find a plan that will help you smile again, even if it is a toothless grin! Thanks as always for reading Agent Straight-Talk. Stop by next week when Felicia will have more back to school dental tips!

    Sources: Sports,,,,

    Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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