Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Mouthguards

A mouthguard protects not only your teeth, but also protects your head from concussion. It's a super important piece of protective equipment that also feels, well, like it slightly impedes your breathing during this extremely intense physical activity; so performance also is something to think about with regard to your mouthguard.

Stock mouthguards
Stock mouthguards that are worn without any additional customization aren't actually that easy to find anymore. Which is just as well, they're cheap but bad for a number of reasons. They fit poorly, so they aren't comfortable and provide poor protection. They actually have to be held in the mouth with your teeth. Which impedes breathing and speaking, and you do have to be able to both.


Boil and bite mouthguards
Common and reasonably priced at sporting goods stores, boil and bite mouthguards are worn after taking an impression of your teeth. A caveat is that off-the-shelf mouthguards are generally sized for men; so if you are having trouble with fit, you may do better with a kid's mouthguard. Shock Doctor makes a range of mouthguards that offer various levels of protection—with correspondingly higher levels of dental insurance—and various performance-enhancing features. Don't worry about mouthguards with lower teeth or double teeth protection; for derby, you want upper teeth protection. But if you have braces, they make mouthguards for that!

I wore the Shock Doctor Gel Max Mouthguard through rioters, and I thought it was fine. It had a tether, but I eventually cut it off to keep everything possible out of the way of my breathing.

20100727_customCustom mouthguards
At some point, you may be interested in a custom mouthguard made from molds taken of your mouth. Because the fit is better, they are more comfortable and less obstructive to breathing. They also offer better protection because the mouthguard is produced from a mold versus the mold being produced on the mouthguard itself, which can thin the plastic in the areas that need most to be protected. Gladiator Custom Mouthguards can be ordered online with an DIY impression system that you mold your own teeth with and mail back for your custom mouthguard, or you can get a custom mouthguard from your dentist who will professionally make the mold of your teeth.

When I was drafted, I got my own mouthguard from the heroic Doctor Harada who donated his services to make custom mouthguards for all home team skaters. It is the bomb. Once it goes in, you leave it in. You can talk and even drink with it in. And the one time I fell and bounced on my teeth, they were totally fine.