Child with sports mouthgaurd
Dr Chris Darby

Dr Chris Darby

Sports Mouthguards – Why Custom-Fitted is Best

You need to wear sports mouthguards if you play any form of contact sport like football, and even non-contact sports like basketball or hockey. Any type of dental trauma can kill teeth forever, and missing teeth and fractured teeth are expensive to replace. Did you know more tooth trauma occurs in practice and in non-contact sports.

When choosing a mouthguard, you have two options – custom-fitted or off-the-shelf. So many people go for the off-the-shelf option because it is cheaper (and sometimes quicker and easier). It doesn’t require a visit to the dentist, you can head to your local chemist or sports store to get one, and all you have to do is put it in some boiling water, bite down, and it’s ready. But is it? If you cannot talk with it, or breathe easily with it are they going to wear it?

But, there are some drawbacks to these types of off-the-shelf mouthguards. Here at Lifetime Holistic Dental, we believe that you need a high quality, custom fitted dental mouthguard—here’s why.

The Advantages of Custom-Fitted Sports Mouthguards

More Comfortable

Custom-fitted mouthguards are just that—designed to fit the unique properties of your mouth, allowing you to breathe and talk normally. More comfortable, means you and your children are more likely to wear them every time you and they need to. And that is not only in the game but at practice ,and in school PE classes.

Breathe Easier

Off-the-shelf mouthguards can actually inhibit oxygen flow as they aren’t matched to the shape of your mouth. They are one size fits all or one size fits NO-ONE! It’s no secret that the easier it is to breathe, the better you perform so you don’t want anything blocking your airways.

ADA Recommended

The ADA recommends that custom-designed sports mouthguards are worn for all collision and contact sports and so called non-contact sports. Are any sports “non-contact

Better Protection

Mouthguards fitted by dentists are subject to thickness requirements. Your dentist will know exactly how thick each section should be so your teeth and jaws are adequately protected in all circumstances. Some sports your dentist make them thicker and others thinner.

After your dentist creates an impression, it is sent to a lab. The lab technician studies the shape of your teeth to select the right thermoplastic materials and create extra protection where needed. For example, if one of your teeth juts out and could receive extra force in a trauma, this will be accounted for.

The Disadvantages of Off-The-Shelf Mouthguards

In essence, ‘boil and bite’ versions offer the complete opposite of custom fit options. Firstly, they are bulky and uncomfortable. So, more often than not, wearers take them out before their game is finished and open up opportunities for injury.

They can also impede breathing, and because they are made of cheap rubber, they don’t offer much protection against impact. This cheap rubber also means they are easy to chew through, so they have to be replaced more often.

Store bought options aren’t subject to these restrictions. There is no way of knowing if they are the right thickness, meaning the mouthguard you have paid for might be a complete waste of money.


If you play a contact or collision sport, or coach a team or have a child that participates in any of these sports, custom-made mouthguards really are the only way to go. They offer better performance, and you can rest easy that no damage will be caused during the pursuit of leisure. This is a godsend to team managers and sponsors. Lots of sports and schools now have the rule: “no mouthguard no play”.

If you’re put off by the cost, you should be aware that cheap boil and bite guards are a perfect example of a false economy. They don’t last long, meaning you’ll have to buy numerous sets. They also don’t offer proper protection, meaning your opening yourself up to expensive dental work. Anyone with fully-formed teeth will also be able to use their mouthguard for a number of years, making it a long-lasting investment.

Injuries suffered during sport can create lifelong dental issues. Fractured teeth, knocked out teeth, fractured jaw bones and dad teeth that go black create a cosmetic problem, and will perhaps even have to be removed. Damage to first teeth can create difficulties in adulthood.

Dentists see so many cases that could have been prevented by a proper mouthguard. Don’t take that risk. Your teeth are valuable, so give them the protection they deserve. Prevention is much cheaper than cure or repair!

As a holistic dentist, Lifetime Holistic Dental is interested in setting you and your children up for lifelong health. That means preventing any possible damage at all stages. Playing sport is a great way of staying fit and looking after your health, but you do have to be responsible.

We prefer to see children from a young age, that way when they start playing sport, we can make recommendations of the best mouthguard for them. It allows us to monitor the growth of the jaws and teeth. It also ensures that children always have a mouthguard that is suited to their stage of development.

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