Athletic Guards

Who should wear an athletic guard? 

Athletic guards are crucial pieces of equipment for any person participating in potentially injurious recreational or sporting activities.  Fitting snugly over the upper teeth, athletic guards protect the entire oral region from traumatic injury, preserving both the esthetic appearance and the health of the smile.  

The majority of sporting organizations now require participants to routinely wear athletic guards.   Though athletic guards are primarily designed to protect the teeth, they can also help minimize the risk of traumatic brain injury.

Athletic guards also reduce the prevalence of the following injuries:

  • Cheek lesions
  • Concussions
  • Gum and soft tissue injuries
  • Jawbone fractures
  • Lip lesions
  • Neck injuries
  • Tongue lesions
  • Tooth fractures

What type of athletic guard should I purchase?

Though there are literally thousands of athletic guard brands, most brands fall into three major categories: stock, boil and bite, and customized.

Some points to consider when choosing an athletic guard include:

  • How much money is available to spend?
  • How often do you play sports?
  • What kind of sport do you play? (Basketball and baseball tend to cause the most oral injuries).

In light of these points, here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of athletic guard:

Stock athletic guards – These athletic guards can be bought directly off the shelf and immediately fitted into the patient's mouth.  The fit is universal (one-size-fits-all), meaning that that the guard doesn’t adjust.  Stock guards are very cheap, easy to fit, and quick to locate at sporting goods stores.  Stock guards provide minimal protection, obstructs proper breathing and speaking, and tend to be uncomfortable.

Boil and bite athletic guards – These athletic guards are usually made from plastic and are easily located at most sporting goods stores.  First, the guard must be immersed in hot water to make it pliable, and then it must be pressed on the patient's teeth to create a custom mold.  Boil and bite athletic guards are slightly more expensive than stock athletic guards, but tend to offer more protection, feel more comfortable in the mouth, and allow for easy speech and breathing.

Customized athletic guards – These athletic guards offer the greatest degree of protection, and are custom-made by the dentist.  First, the dentist makes an impression of the patient’s teeth using special material, and then the athletic guard is constructed over the mold.  Customized athletic guards are more expensive and take longer to fit, but are more comfortable and fully approved by the dentist.

If you have questions or concerns about choosing an athletic guard, please contact our office.