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Boil & Bite vs. Custom Fit – How to Determine the Best Mouthguard

In Dental Care, Kids on September 13, 2011 at 4:30 AM

According to SportsDentistry.com, The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports several interesting statistics involving the use of mouthguards, and our kids.

For the sake of this blog post, we’ll concentrate on identifying two of the most relevant.

1. Dental injuries are the most common type or orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports.

2. Victims of total tooth avulsions who do not have teeth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of $10,000 – $15,000 per tooth, hours in the dentist’s chair, and the possible development of other dental problems such as periodontal disease.

It is estimated over three million teeth will get knocked out this year during youth sporting events. (Source: National Youth Sports Safety Foundation)

Common sense says mouthguards and helmets with face protection will certainly limit mouth injuries, but how can we be sure of the best mouthguard choice for our kids?

A properly fitted mouthguard must be protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, not bulky, cause minimal interference to speaking and breathing, and (possibly the most important criteria) have excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas. (Source: SportsDentistry.com)

Basically we have two choices when it comes to mouthguards for our kids, the boil and bite job we can purchase from the local sporting goods store, or a custom mouthpiece specifically designed for their teeth and fitted by our trusted family dentist.

Boil & Bite

These are the mouthguards available for purchase at the local sporting goods store, essentially requiring a pot of boiling water to bring the mouthpiece into a ‘formable’ state.

We then need to have our kids bite down on the soft mouthpiece to form it around their bite. Hold for a minute, and dip it back in cold water to complete the toothy somewhat protective template.

SportsDentistry.com says, presently over 90% of the mouthguards worn are of the variety bought at sporting good stores.

The other 10% are of the custom-made variety diagnosed and designed by a health professional (dentist and/or athletic trainer).

Custom Fit

A custom fit mouthguard is specifically designed by a dental professional with the individual child’s anatomy, dental history, chosen sport, and other important dental health variables taken into account.

An easy way to look at it is, the boil and bite is one size fits all – sort of, most manufacturers do offer small, medium, and large.

The custom mouthguard is just that; custom designed specifically for the individual by a dental health professional.

Which is better?

Take a wild guess…then ask your dentist.

Which costs more?

Go figure.

But remember this when calculating short-term savings against long-term prevention, emergency dentistry will cost more than any mouthguard.

$5 for the standard boil & bite mouthguard.

$10,000 for estimated lifetime dental costs per injured tooth.

Forking over $500 for a custom fit job….PRICELESS!

Go Custom!

A properly fitted mouthguard will certainly limit the severity of, and help protect against further injury to the mouth, teeth, and face.

Only your dentist can determine the perfect fit and provide the answers necessary to best protect your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw, when they’re out playing sports this season.

To continue beating the dental equity equine – talk to your dentist before your child takes the field.

And do your best to ensure your child understands their mouthguard must actually be in their mouths at all times.

If it’s uncomfortable they won’t use it. And if they don’t use it, they risk injury.

Need another reason to opt for the more protective custom fit mouthguard this season?

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  1. Thanks for the post. It’s true that custom is generally the best, but we also have an option that goes a step beyond with a power wafer insert that is needed in some cases. We have a measuring tool that is used during installation and it tells you if the wafer is needed for a more custom fit based on your unique bite. Check it out if interested.

    Thanks!

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