Gumshields (also known as mouth guards) are a vital piece of equipment for many sports. In this article, we will consider the different types of gumshield available and which offer the best protection for your mouth.
Sports dentistry is defined as the prevention and management of injuries to the teeth and face due to sports. It is thought that a third of all dental injuries are a result of sports trauma. Participation in high-risk sports, such as rugby, hockey, boxing, etc, are known to have higher chance of injury to the teeth and face.
Such injuries to the teeth have long-term functional, aesthetic and psychological consequences.
The risk of trauma to the teeth due to sports is preventable and can be minimised by wearing a gumshield (or mouthguard). Studies have shown that there is a greater risk of damage to the teeth if a gumshield is not worn.
A gumshield is a resilient appliance placed over the teeth to protect the teeth and gums from impacts that could cause injury. The first use of a gumshield made from rubber strips was in 1890 by an amateur boxer In Germany.
Anyone participating in sports is advised to wear a gumshield.
What are the options?
There are three types of gumshield available;
- Custom gumshields; bespoke gumshields made from a mould of your teeth. These offer the best protection from trauma (e.g. GuardianPro).
- Boil-and-bite gumshields; store bought, heat moulded material with inconsistent results.
- Stock gumshields; pre-formed ready-to-wear gumshields. This type of sports guard is kept in place by clenching your teeth together. Stock gumshields offer the least protection.
Why get a custom gumshield?
Custom gumshields are considered superior and offer many advantages over other types of guard. Custom gumshields are made just for your mouth so it will fit tightly yet comfortably to your teeth, ensuring it stays in place on impact.
Custom gumshields provide;
- best protection of your teeth
- ease of speech/shouting during gameplay
- less interference to gameplay
- easier to breathe during gameplay
- greater comfort and adaptation to your teeth
- better durability
- allow for bespoke designs with name tags, colour choices and logos for individual team, clubs or schools.
Where can you get a custom gumshield?
Your dentist can arrange to make you a custom mouth guard.
Custom gumshields can also be arranged via bespoke gumshield companies such as GuardianPro which work with dental professionals or via postal impression kits. Bespoke team, club or school packages can be arranged at your convenience.
How long should a custom gumshield last?
For younger players, who are still growing, a custom gumshield should be changed each season.
For an adult a custom gumshield should last for many years as the teeth and mouth do not really change.
However no mouth guard will last forever and should be replaced when it starts to show signs of wear. Pits and cracks in the gumshield surface can harbour bacteria and also weaken the gumshield which can make it less protective.
What if I have braces?
Custom gumshields can be made to fit over braces, this will require a visit to the dentist to take an appropriate mould to allow space for the braces.
Specific boil-and-bite shields for braces can provide a cheap alternative in the meantime but do not offer best protection.
How should I look after my gumshield?
More often than not, a gumshield is tossed into a gym back and not cleaned adequately, allowing bacteria and mould to grow. Keeping a gumshield clean is not difficult.
Before and after each use, rinse with cool water. After use, if required, lightly brush with a toothbrush with soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. Allow the gumshield time to air dry.
Store your gumshield in a perforated container to keep it safe, clean and protect it from damage.
What do you do if you knock a tooth out?
- Find the tooth and keep it safe
- Rinse your mouth and the tooth (if dirty) – do not scrub the tooth
- If possible, holding the tooth by the crown, gently push it back in & bite on a tissue or put your gumshield back in to hold the tooth in place
- If not possible, store the tooth is some saliva or milk
- Seek dental advice immediately