When it comes to protecting your mouth, an occlusal guard (or mouthguard) is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating. Occlusal guards also help in protecting your teeth from yourself! They can protect your teeth while clenching and grinding.
The Three Types of Mouthguards
Custom-fitted: These are made specifically for you by your dentist. They may be more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit.
Stock: These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. However, they often don't fit well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
Boil and bite: These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores, and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can't afford a custom-fitted mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore.