Mouth guards come in a variety of styles. Some can be purchased in the store that are then warmed up in hot water and placed in the mouth to form as best as possible around the teeth. Patients indicate that these types of mouth guards tend to be over extended, big, bulky and are not comfortable. In some cases patients have reported that it is hard to breath because their guard is so large. Often, as a result of these issues, the player ends up chewing on the guard in the corner of their mouth as opposed to wearing the guard to protect the teeth.
Custom fit guards, such as those that are fabricated in our dental office, tend to fit better because the guard itself is fabricated on a stone model that is an exact replica of an individual’s teeth. This is done with the benefit of having an impression of the teeth taken. A sheet of guard material (chosen from a variety of colors and styles) that is 4mm thick is warmed up under a high temperature and then the sheet sucked down in a vacuum unit over the stone replica. The sheet is then trimmed to ensure the proper extensions of the guard. Custom fabricated sports guards tend to be more comfortable because they are more conservative and not over extended
Mouth guards help minimize the risk of trauma to the teeth and soft tissue during aggressive contact sports like hockey and lacrosse. They help reduce the risk of tooth evulsions, tooth fracture and laceration to the lips and gum tissue lips.
There is also the suggestion that a mouth guards help prevent/minimize the risk of concussions. This evidence is more anecdotal, (not proven scientifically), but the idea is that a mouth guard will act as a shock absorber where in the guard would dissipate the forces of a traumatic event to the head. The presence of the mouth guard would also increase the separation of the head of the condyle (of the mandible), from the glenoid fossa (at the base of the skull), decreasing forces transmitted to the temporal area of the skull. One theory also proposed that a mouth guard also helps stabilize the head and neck area (supposedly from the act of biting on the guard itself) which leads to less harmful movement of the brain inside the skull.