Mouthguards are amongst the most versatile dental products ever made, not only because they are so often custom-made to fit a particular set of teeth, but also because they are tailored to meet specific needs.
Mouthguards can be used for orthodontic work, as retainers, can help to reduce the effects of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and be used to apply whitening gel for some cosmetic treatments, as well as many other dental purposes.
However, one of the most common purposes for mouthguards is in the world of contact sports, for relatively self-evident reasons.
In sports where there is the chance of having your teeth knocked out, the best way to stop unnecessary and practically inevitable dental damage is by wearing mouthguards that stop impacting and movement of the teeth.
This is not only important for obvious safety reasons but can stop a chipped or broken tooth from cutting a person’s mouth and stopping them from playing any further part in a sporting event.
However, different sports often have unique mouthguards designed with their needs in mind. Football, for instance, uses different mouthguards to boxing, which in turn uses different mouthguards to basketball.
The reason for this is one of practicality. Thicker mouthguards provide more protection but also are more difficult to speak through. This does not matter for individual sports such as combat sports, wrestling or gymnastics, but makes communication between team members much harder.
This is particularly important in a sport such as gridiron football, where tactics often need to be relayed whilst on the pitch, seconds before contact. This is why they have a thinner acrylic mouthguard that is connected to a player’s helmet, so they can put it in and take it out whenever they need to.
The different types of contact with the mouth can also be a factor. A contact sport has more opportunities for a hard hit strong enough to damage teeth than basketball, where such contact would be grounds for a penalty.
It highlights the ingenuity of mouthguard designers and the advanced technology they have to protect teeth as much as possible.