The 10 Best Mouthguards
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you participate in any sort of contact sport, then a high-quality mouthguard is an absolute must. These inexpensive shields can disperse the impacts your teeth you might experience while boxing, playing football, or going up for a rebound. Spending a few bucks on one of these now could save you thousands of dollars in dental work down the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best mouthguard on Amazon.
Why You Should Always Wear A Mouthguard
Modern mouthguards do a lot more than just keep your smile from cracking, however.
When I was a kid, and I watched the Rocky movies, as well as the popular Nickelodeon television show Guts, all the boxers and contestants wore mouthguards. I would even imitate them when acting out scenes from the movies or moments from the show by keeping orange peels against my teeth, making it look like I had a mouthguard in.
So, when I started playing hockey and mouthguards were a requirement, I was actually excited to start wearing one. Not all kids share my enthusiasm, however. Nevertheless, it’s vital that we instil in them the importance of wearing a mouthguard, and wearing one ourselves — as we often set the example for them — may be the best way to do so.
While a good mouthguard can be a bulwark against a number of injuries, its primary job in many fields is the protection of your teeth and smile. The vast majority of athletes who wear mouthguards are going to endanger their chompers on a much more regular basis than they are going to find themselves at risk of concussion or a broken jaw. We’ll get to those points in a bit, but a mouthguard, for most people, is there to keep your teeth intact.
In some sports, losing teeth is like a badge of honor, but that’s mostly among professional players with expensive dental coverage and a very high tolerance for pain. For the rest of us, we have to protect our smiles. After all, according to evolutionary psychology, the smile has as much to do with our ability to communicate as our words and body language do.
Modern mouthguards do a lot more than just keep your smile from cracking, however. Many are designed to absorb shocks to the head. For those who play sports where the jaw is particularly vulnerable, this can mean the difference between enjoying a burger after the game and having to drink that burger through a straw for a few weeks.
Even more importantly than protecting the jaw, however, most mouthguards that absorb shocks can significantly reduce the risk of concussions from severe impact, as well as the micro concussions thought to be at the heart of conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Football players in particular need to take this ailment seriously, as it can lead to changes in mood and behavior, significant cognitive impairments, and even death.
What To Look For In A Mouthguard
As you endeavor to find the perfect mouthguard for you or your child, you’ll notice that there are a lot of different styles to choose from. Fortunately, there are some very simple questions you can answer that will significantly narrow down your search and make finding the perfect model a relatively easy task.
That means you’re going to be exposing yourself or your child to some potentially volatile chemicals that are often at their most dangerous when heated.
For starters, what is the sport for which the mouthguard is intended? Certain mouthguards are designed for sports whose players wear helmets with cages. Often, the mouthguard can conveniently attach to that cage so that the player doesn’t lose it, even if it gets knocked out unexpectedly. These are ideal for hockey, football, and lacrosse, and they’re a requirement in many youth leagues. If the user is into boxing or MMA fighting, then they might want a mouthguard that can protect both the upper and lower mouth, while still having enough of a gap to breathe through.
Some players will insist that the size and shape of one mouthguard will be more of a distraction than that of another, and this has more to do with preference than anything else. If you’ve worn mouthguards in the past, though, you’ll have some idea of how much comfort you’re willing to sacrifice in the name of protection.
Most mouthguards mold to the teeth and gums of the user by being softened in hot water and then bit into. That means you’re going to be exposing yourself or your child to some potentially volatile chemicals that are often at their most dangerous when heated. This is why it’s important not to go the cheap route and buy the least expensive option you can find online. Instead, make sure that the unit you have your eye on isn’t made with any hazardous plastics.
Finally, there’s a question of style. Some models on the market are available in a litany of colors and patterns that can make the mouthguard seem invisible or draw extra attention to it. This consideration will have more to do with a player’s temperament than anything else. Showboats or those interested in intimidating or distracting their opponents will often choose gaudier styles than the lunch pail players who just want to get the job done right.
A Brief History Of The Mouthguard
Despite the long history of pugilism around the world, the desire to protect the mouth from significant injury didn’t result in the invention of the mouthguard until the late 19th century. The earliest of these guards was invented by an English dentist for use by boxers in the 1870s, around which time the sport had gained some notoriety in the country. The implement was intended to protect the lips from bursting open more than anything else, and was referred to as the gum shield.
That mandatory requirement has since expanded to cover the vast majority of sports.
A different design gained popularity among basketball and football players in the 1940s, as the molded transparent acrylic resin it was made from was much more comfortable to wear. Just a few years later, the American Dental Association joined in the research efforts to identify the most protective aspects of any given mouthguard, and to make recommendations for their development. By 1962, all of the country’s high school football players were required to wear mouth protection.
That mandatory requirement has since expanded to cover the vast majority of sports. That’s not only in the interest of the players, but also in the interest of schools and townships who could find themselves on the wrong end of very expensive lawsuits in the event of a significant injury.
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