An athlete’s mouth can take quite a battering during a match. When properly used, a mouthguard can make save someone’s teeth from traumatic injury, but many athletes opt not to use one. Their reasons for doing so are usually based on misconceptions which, at Dr. Eric Meyer’s Fullerton dental office, we want to correct.
A common complaint about mouthguards is that they are excessively large, covering interior parts of the mouth that don’t need protection at the cost of gagging and difficulty speaking and breathing. This can happen if a mouthguard is not fitted properly, but a custom-fitted mouthguard would not cause these problems. Boil-and-bite mouthguards available at sports stores and through online vendors work alright, but the best option is a mouthguard made from a scan or impression of the athlete’s teeth.
Some people also avoid mouthguards because they consider them unhygienic. This depends on how often a mouthguard is cleaned. Ideally, it would be brushed after every use (with a different toothbrush than the wearer uses on their teeth). Like retainers and dentures, mouthguards should only be rinsed with cool or room-temperature water, for fear of warping them, and should be replaced by a professional if they lose their shape. Unlike dentures, mouthguards should be allowed to dry when not in use.