Dental Health Matters: Sports mouthguards

We all know about mouthguards that are used to protect teeth and soft tissues against injury during contact sports. In fact, many parents have had a letter from their child’s school asking for one to be provided before the start of winter term. But what type of sports mouthguard should a parent provide? Dr Trevor Bigg explains...

What are the types of sports mouthguards?

The ideal mouthguard fits firmly in place during action, allows for unimpaired speaking and breathing, and is comfortable, durable, odourless and tasteless.

There are three types of sports mouthguard:

  • Stock mouthguards, which are pre-formed and ready to wear. Although these are very cheap, they are not to be recommended as they are bulky and they make breathing and talking difficult because they require the jaw to be closed to hold them in place.

Mouth-formed mouthguards are generally the ‘boil-and-bite’ kind. The mouthguard is placed in boiling water to soften the material and then moulded to fit the teeth by biting and using the fingers to apply the plastic until it cools and sets. While this type is much better than the stock mouthguard, they are still bulky and don’t fit and protect as well as they should.

  • However, these mouthguards do have a use. Younger children have baby teeth and adult teeth in their mouth. As they lose the baby teeth the mouthguard no longer fits, so a mouth-formed mouthguard protects the teeth but allows for a low-cost replacement as the teeth change.
  • Custom-fitted mouthguards are more expensive than the other types of mouthguards, as they are made by the dentist from a cast of the teeth.  Because they are made-to-measure they offer the greatest degree of protection to the teeth and soft-tissues and they are much more comfortable. They can also be made in different colours and with the name inserted, hopefully, making them less easily lost.

What sports need a mouthguard?

Any sport that involves making contact with another individual or object. Rugby, hockey and martial arts immediately spring to mind, but other less obvious sports could include gymnastics, skateboarding and squash. Boxing and some martial arts require special treatment. As there are direct blows to the head, casts of the upper and lower teeth are used to make a thicker mouthguard that the lower teeth fit into. This reduces the chance of serious injury such as jaw fracture and concussion. Although it’s never considered, football should be played with a mouthguard, as most dentists have seen the damage that can be done to the teeth when heading a ball.

If you want more information about the contents of the article, go to, or contact Penny at Milton Dental Practice: 01993 831396 or email and come to see us for a consultation.

To accompany this article, we are offering a New Patient Examination, plus x-rays, at the reduced fee of £70.00 (normally £105.00) and a free Denplan Examination.