Posted in Prevention, Sports mouthguard

Sports Mouthguards: Are custom really better than store bought mouthguards?

With the Rio Olympics well underway, we couldn’t help but notice some of the athletes were wearing the wrong mouthguard.

Calling all sports players, team captains, coaches, teachers and parents. With the Rio Olympics in full blast, safety in sports is a big topic as the nation’s top sports associations want to make sure our athletes play it safe in Rio. What about our recreational athletes back home, adults and children who either do casual or competitive sports?

When we talk about safety in sports, we’re talking about mouthguards and which type is better – the store bought or the custom-made ones? In other words, is it better to get hit in the face  wearing a stock mouthguard or is it preferable to get hit in the mouth with a custom-made mouthguard?

No-one plans for an accident (that’s why it’s called an accident) and no-one intentionally gets injured. It’s always fun until someone gets hurt.

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  1. Store-bought mouthguards – this includes anything you buy at the chemist or sports shop e.g. ‘boil and bite’, stock mouthguards, over-the-counter or on the shelf type – they are all the same thing.
  2. Custom-made mouthguards – type of mouthguard which the dentist makes.

What does the research show?

The Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the American Dental Association (ADA,  just to name a few, all recommend custom-made mouthguards.

What’s wrong with stock mouthguards?

The stock mouthguards have a poor fit on the teeth and tend to be thin over prominent teeth that are prone to damage.Generally, they are the worst as they offer the minimal or no protection and may even be thought of as dangerous as they may give a rugby player, for example, a false sense of security.

How do custom mouthguard work differently to stock mouthguard?

Apart from actually staying in the mouth when a blow to the face happens, custom-made mouthguards work by reducing impact force to the teeth due to the shock absorbing capability of the compliant material layer. Harmful rebound energy also is reduced as the material returns to its original shape more slowly than a stock mouthguard. Because custom mouthguard are so good at distributing the impact of forces, not only do they protect your teeth but they also reduce the risk of concussions, unlike stock mouthguards.


Custom-made mouthguards are safe


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Image showing distribution of force impacting on mouthguard with outer layers. 


To answer the question, which would you rather wear if you were to ever get hit in the face with a ball, let’s look at these 2 pictures below:

images.jpeg – the stock mouthguard falls out of the mouth, offering absolutely no protection to your teeth

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 9.56.27 am.png – the custom mouthguard stays in the mouth and is specially designed to distribute the force impact so your teeth are protected.

In conclusion: Of the types listed above, the custom-made mouthguards are the best and offers the most protection. Mouth Guards are a Must. Mouth guards are significantly less expensive than the cost to repair an injury, and dentists can make customised mouthguards that hold teeth in place and allow for normal speech and breathing.

Accidents happen. “A properly fitted mouthguard is an essential piece of any athlete’s protective equipment,” says Dr. Paul Nativi, past president of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. “Talk with your dentist about what kinds of activities your family enjoys and ask about ways to make sure their teeth and face stay protected.”

What sort of injuries are we talking here?

Look at your top 2 front teeth. You see them? Are they important to you? Are they important to your appearance? They are the reason who should be wearing a custom mouthguard.

Apart from your good looks, custom mouthguards can also protect you from a severe concussion.


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Custom-made mouthguards are all about comfort

  • fits properly
  • does not restrict speech or breathing
  • hygienic and easy to clean
  • thinner than the stock mouthguard

Who benefits the most from wearing mouthguards?

Sports people of any age, who play contact sports, such as:

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Boxing
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Netball
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Cricket


  • Rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Keep the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents
  • Make sure not to leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water
  • Check for wear and replace the mouthguard every 2-3 years.



  • To get the best service from a mouthguard, you should not wear removable appliances, such as retainers, with a mouthguard
  • Not chew on or cut pieces off your mouthguard
  • Wear the mouthguard during training sessions as well as during games
  • Bring your mouthguard to each dental visit


What is the procedure for getting a custom mouthguard?

Two appointments are needed to have a mouthguard custom fitted.

First appointment

  • The dentist takes an impression of the teeth. A dental laboratory uses the impression as a mold to create the custom-fitted mouth guard.

Second appointment

  • Generally about one week later, the dentist makes sure that the fit is perfect.


How often should you get your mouthguard replaced?

Every 2-3 years, assuming you wear the mouthguard to every training session and game.


What to do if an accident happens?

Want to see more pictures of athletes getting hit in the face? 




About the Academy for Sports Dentistry

The Academy for Sports Dentistry was founded in 1983 as a forum for dentists, physicians, trainers, coaches, dental technicians, and educators interested in exchanging ideas related to sports dentistry and the dental needs of athletes at risk to sports’ injuries. The Academy is an organisation dedicated to health and fitness through education, service and research pertaining to the prevention and treatment of sports-related orofacial injuries and diseases. Activities include the collection and dissemination of information on dental athletic injuries and the encouragement of research on the prevention of dental injuries to athletes. This organisation exists to promote the advancement of research pertaining to sports dentistry; the utilisation of this knowledge for the promotion of better approaches to the prevention and the treatment of athletic injuries and oral disease; and the improvement of communication and cooperation among all members of the health care community in order to share and utilise this knowledge for the benefit of the people. For more information, visit the Academy Web site at


About the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

The experts in face, mouth and jaw surgeryTM — The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) is the professional organisation representing more than 10,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons, OMS residents and professional allied staff in the United States. AAOMS supports its fellows’ and members’ ability to practice their specialty through education, research and advocacy. AAOMS fellows and members comply with rigorous continuing education requirements and submit to periodic office anesthesia evaluations. For additional information about oral and maxillofacial surgery, visit the AAOMS Web site at



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DeYoung AK, Robinson E, Godwin WC. Comparing comfort and wearability: custom-made vs self-adapted mouthguards. J Am Dent Assoc1994;125:1112–7. 2. National Athletic Trainers’ Association. (unpublished media review). 3. Ferguson RW. Safe Kids Worldwide Analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data, 2013.




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