A sports gumshield (also called a sports mouthguard and custom mouthguard) should be an essential part of your sporting attire, especially when playing contact sports.
Did you know that around one-third of all dental traumas and/or injuries are sports-related? That’s 200,000 injuries every year that could have been prevented by wearing a protective guard. These are injuries that include
- Chipped or broken teeth.
- Dislodged tooth or teeth.
- Fractured bridgework or crowns.
- Cheek and lip injuries.
- Root damage.
- Gum lacerations.
So, whether you play rugby, hockey, boxing or practice martial arts, gumshields/mouthguards are vital if you want to protect your teeth.
How to choose the right sports mouthguard
There are 3 different types of gumshields, so let’s take a closer look.
These are typically inexpensive and cost just a few pounds to buy. You can usually find them in most sporting goods stores, department stores, and pharmacies. Typically, they’re made from rubber, polyvinyl chloride, or a polyvinyl acetate copolymer and are available in limited sizes only. As a result, they won’t create a great fit. In addition, they can be a little bulky and make breathing and talking difficult.
- Easy to buy and
- Pretty quick to fit
- Can be ill-fitting
- Less able to withstand impact when playing sport
- Quick to wear down
Boil and bite
Next up, you have what is known as boil and bite mouthguards. These are a little more customisable because although they come in a preformed shape, that shape can be altered by placing them in boiling water. The idea is that the wearer then bites into the now soft plastic to create a more customised fit.
They can be found in most reputable sports shops but can still appear bulky and cumbersome and a little hard to breathe around. Typically, you should expect to pay somewhere between £5 and £30 for this variety of sports gumshields.
- Better fit than stock sports mouthguards
- Easily available in most reputable sports shops
- Good price
- Can still be bulky and cumbersome
- DIY impressions can make them tricky to get right
- It can be hard to breathe around
Finally, we have the crème de la crème in sports apparel in custom-made sports mouthguards. These are fabricated by dental professionals in a centralised dental lab or – if the dentist has the technology – at the dental practice itself. You won’t find these in any sports store, pharmacy, or supermarket.
Unsurprisingly, because your dentist fabricates the mouthguard based on a detailed impression, custom gumshields/mouthguards tend to provide the ultimate protection and fit, the snug shape hugs the teeth, gums, and jaw making them comfortable and reassuring.
In addition, these highly-personalised guards tend to be made from heavy-duty thermoplastic material, making them incredibly durable. However, although they won’t lose their shape as store-bought mouthguards can, you should look to change them every few years, depending upon their use.
- More comfortable in the mouth.
- Offers the greatest protection vs any other mouthguard.
- Can be fully customised to your style and your design
- Long-lasting when compared to other mouthguards
- Ideal for use with multiple sports
- Potential wearers will need to book an appointment with a dentist who offers this treatment.
Now you know the types of sports mouthguards and what they have to offer, it’s now time to clear up a little confusion. Namely, is there a difference between a sports gumshield and a dental nightguard, or are they one in the same thing?
Sports gumshield vs dental nightguard – Understanding their roles
Both a sports mouthguard and a dental nightguard are indeed designed to protect the teeth, but that is where any similarities end. Where a sports gumshield is designed to protect the teeth and mouth in case of a sudden or hard impact, a dental nightguard protects the teeth from getting worn down due to constant grinding or clenching.
As a result, a dental nightguard is usually made from a harder type of plastic able to withstand the continual rigours of grinding. Alternatively, sports mouthguards are made from a softer material designed to absorb the force of a single impact.
Furthermore, while a nightguard only needs to cover the chewing (occlusal) surface of the teeth, a sports gumshield needs to cover the entire teeth and gums.
What this means is that it isn’t advisable to wear a sports mouthguard at night if you have teeth-grinding problems, and likewise, don’t expect a dental mouthguard to offer up much protection if worn when playing sports.
What can patients expect when they visit us for sports gumshields/mouthguards?
In other words – What are the steps you need to take?
Here at Cheadle Hulme Dental and Cosmetics, we strongly believe in prevention. This is why our custom-made sports guards are of the highest quality materials. With this in mind, here is what you can expect when you pay us a visit:
Step 1 – The consultation
During a consultation with our professional team, our dentist will talk to you about the sports you play in order to gauge the level of protection needed.
We’ll also discuss what you can expect and may even show you samples of what our custom mouthguards look like so you get a feel for the end product.
Finally, we’ll also answer any questions or concerns about mouthguard hygiene, cleanliness, longevity, storage, etc.
Once you’re happy to proceed, then it’s time for an impression.
Step 2 – Impression taking
Using dental putty, we’ll take a dental impression of your mouth. This is so that any teeth crevices aren’t missed giving you a precise mould of your smile. This whole process takes around 15 minutes. Once the process is complete, you’re good to go.
In the meantime, we will send the dental impression to a local lab where your bespoke sports mouthguard gets fabricated. During the process, super-heated plastic is layered over the mould, and once the exact structure has been formed, the mouthguard is cooled to set. This creates a super-strong and durable mouthguard.
The whole process takes around 1-2 weeks and once delivered back to our clinic, we’ll give you a call for your final fitting.
Step 3 – Final fitting
Naturally, we need to check if your sports mouthguard fits correctly, so we’ll call you in for a final fitting. Once you are happy, you’re good to go.
Caring for your sports mouthguard
Irrespective of the type of mouthguard you choose, to avoid bacterial build-up, your mouthguard should be rinsed in cold water and air-dried every time you use it. It can also be cleaned with an antiseptic mouthwash. You can also use cleaning tablets and/or a soft toothbrush and toothpaste.
Other tips for better mouthguard care involve:
- Storing in a firm but perforated mouthguard container.
- Keeping it away from hot water, the sun, or heating vents, as heat can cause the mouthguard to warp.
- Bring your mouthguard for inspection when attending a regular dental appointment.
- Regularly check for holes, tears, and warping, as these may severely limit any impact protection.
If you are contemplating buying a custom-fit mouthguard for peace of mind when playing sports, we invite you to come and talk to the team at Cheadle Hulme Dental and Cosmetics. We’ll discuss your needs and requirements to give you the sports mouth guard and, ultimately, the protection you need. Contact us on 0161 486 0743 or visit our website to book your appointment today.
Taking your smile in a positive direction
When it comes to a friendly, caring, and professional dentist in Cheadle Hulme, you won’t find better than Cheadle Hulme Dental and Cosmetics. Why not book an appointment by contacting us directly at 0161 486 0743? We look forward to welcoming you.