Which mouth guards are best?
Full contact sports like football, boxing and hockey can cause inadvertent injuries. Helmets and headgear protect the skull but making sure that your teeth and jaw stay safe is equally important. Mouth guards were designed to provide an extra barrier around your teeth and hold the jaw in place if your face were hit by an opponent or an errant puck or ball.
There are many styles of mouth guards today made from numerous materials that not only provide protection but extra comfort since athletes wear mouth guards for the duration of their competitions. For a high-tech comfortable fit, the top choice for adults and youth is the SAFEJAWZ Mouthguard Slim Fit.
What to know before you buy a mouth guard
What sport and position do you play?
A boxer or mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter will need mouth guards that allow for easy breathing. A football kicker may only need a thin mouth guard to protect their upper teeth since they rarely are involved in tackling, while a linebacker or lineman will need a bulkier mouth guard to protect from the constant collisions throughout a game. Once you determine your priority for a mouth guard based on your sport and position, you can more easily find the one right for you.
Do you have braces or other orthodontics?
Braces and other orthodontic devices are expensive and important for reshaping your teeth. They shouldn’t keep you from participating in contact sports though. There are specialized athletic mouth guards designed to fit around your braces.
How long will mouth guards last?
A good quality mouth guard should last three to five years if cared for properly. Keep in mind that children and pre-teen youth may need to replace their mouth guards more frequently as their bodies continue to grow.
What to look for in a quality mouth guard
Comfort is essential for a mouth guard since athletes are more likely to keep wearing one when it is fitted well. Mouth guards are made from different materials that can make a big difference with overall comfort.
Two soft and flexible materials are silicone, which is often recommended for people with braces, and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). Thermoplastic is the material used for mouth guards that are boiled and then fit to the teeth while in a pliable form. Instant-fit gel mouth guards do the same thing as thermoplastic but do not require boiling the mouth guard first.
Football, hockey and lacrosse players may want to use a mouth guard with a strap that attaches to their helmet. This is a great way to keep the mouth guard from getting lost or inadvertently knocked to the playing field. Some mouth guards have a detachable strap, while some models have the strap molded as part of the mouth guard itself.
There are three main styles of mouth guards. Stock mouth guards are inexpensive, but they come in a few shapes and sizes, and most notably, they cannot be adjusted. Boil-and-bite mouth guards use thermoplastic that is heated and becomes pliable. The mouth guard is then fit to the athlete’s mouth while still in the shapeable state, and then it hardens as it cools. Customized mouth guards are usually made by dentists or other oral specialists who shape the mouth guard based on the exact mold of your mouth and teeth. Customized mouth guards can be very expensive.
How much you can expect to spend on a mouth guard
Market pricing for mouth guards begins at $5-$8 for off-the-shelf mouth guards that are not adjustable, and mid-range mouth guards that require boiling and a bite impression run $11-$21. Mouth guards that are used for people with braces or other conditions are priced $20-$50, while custom-fitted mouth guards provided by a dentist can exceed $200.
Mouth guard FAQ
Is an athletic mouth guard the same thing as a night guard?
A. There can be confusion between the terms athletic or sports mouth guard and a night guard. Both devices are inserted into the mouth and cover the teeth. An athletic mouth guard is meant for protection from unexpected blows during competition. Night guards are provided by dentists to help patients who grind their teeth or snore while they sleep or perhaps have other conditions like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction that are helped by keeping the jaw slightly open while sleeping.
Are athletic mouth guards covered by dental insurance?
A. It depends on your dental insurance coverage. Check your plan summary or with your human resources department to see if athletic mouth guards are covered. Lower-priced mouth guards may be eligible for flexible spending plans. See the details of your particular benefit plan.
What are the best mouth guards to buy?
Top mouth guard
What you need to know: This mouth guard uses special technology to stay in place with comfort and a tight fit.
What you’ll love: You can repeat the fitting process several times to ensure a proper fit. This mouth guard is designed with an extra slim inside panel to increase breathability and prevent gagging. It comes with a money-back guarantee.
What you should consider: While marketed to both adults and youth, some adult users found even the largest sizes to be a bit too small.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top mouth guard for the money
What you need to know: These affordable mouth guards come with a carrying case and are ideal for beginners.
What you’ll love: Designed for a lightweight fit, this mouth guard not only protects your teeth and jaw but ensures your gums and lips are not in pain. Made from EVA, it is comfortable and flexible and has a long life.
What you should consider: The carrying case that comes with these mouth guards has a tendency to open unexpectedly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This wide bite-pad mouth guard is designed with the contact sport athlete in mind.
What you’ll love: Its 1.6-millimeter thickness is only half as thick as conventional mouth guards, which increases comfort and makes it easier to breathe and talk. Easily remoldable, this mouth guard ensures a tight fit the longer you use it.
What you should consider: This mouth guard can be rough on the inside of the mouth and is not recommended for children.
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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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