Mouthguards for Adults

Online Dental Education Library

Ones healthy smile depends on simple dental care habits, such as brushing and flossing. Please follow these steps to protect you and your loved ones oral health.

Brushing for proper oral health

Consider these brushing basics from the American Dental Association:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush. Take enough time to do a thorough job.

Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.

Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle against your teeth and brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums.

Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position, if possible, and allow it to air dry until using it again. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria.

Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become frayed.

Flossing for proper oral health

You can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth or under your gumline with a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is important. When you floss:

Don’t skimp. Break off about 18 inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand — leaving about 1 inch (3 centimeters) to floss your first tooth.

Take it one tooth at a time. Use your thumbs and forefingers to gently pull the floss from the gumline to the top of the tooth to scrape off plaque. Rub the floss against all sides of the tooth. Unwind to fresh floss as you progress to the next tooth.

Keep it up. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, try the waxed variety. If it’s hard to manipulate the floss, use a floss holder or an interdental cleaner — such as a dental pick or stick designed to clean between the teeth.

Mouthguard.Today most adults recognize that leading a healthy, active lifestyle is a big plus. Moderate exercise has been shown to help lower blood pressure, keep cholesterol levels under control, and even reduce feelings of anxiety or depression. To stay active, some 150 million adults in the United States get involved in sports or physical recreation every year. And every year, some of those active folks wind up being treated for sports-related dental injuries.

Who is apt to suffer this kind of injury? Men are more likely than women, but only by a few percentage points. For both sexes, the injury rate falls off rapidly after the teen years — although older athletes tend to have more severe problems. But if you thought that contact sports like football and hockey produced the greatest number of injuries…then it's time to think again: Adult males are far more likely to be injured playing basketball!

Baseball, bicycling, handball, skiing, surfing and equestrian sports — plus some two dozen others — are activities that the American Dental Association (ADA) has identified as potential causes of dental injury in adults.

Don't get us wrong: There's no question that the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of being hurt. But when serious dental injury occurs, it can result in pain, time taken away from work or the family, and high treatment costs — which often aren't covered by insurance. If you had a piece of equipment, endorsed by the ADA, which could reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury by 60 times… would you use it?

An Indispensable Part of Your Sports Gear: The Mouthguard

Athletic mouthguards.

A high-quality, custom-made mouthguard should be part of every athlete's equipment. What's a mouthguard? It's a small protective device that fits over your teeth and absorbs the force of an impact, helping to protect the mouth from damage. There are different kinds of mouthguards, available from various sources. They include:

  • “Off-the shelf” types. Found in some sports retailers and big-box stores, these inexpensive guards come in S-M-L sizes, and are generally worn by clenching them between the teeth. They are probably better than nothing, if you don't mind wearing them—but they can be uncomfortable, and are of uncertain quality.
  • “Boil and bite” guards. This type of mouthguard is meant to be softened by heat, and then molded into shape by fingers, teeth and tongue. It's a better choice than the first kind, but there can be wide variation in how much mouth coverage these guards provide—and in their effectiveness.
  • The custom-fabricated mouthguard. This is the one that's made just for you: First a model of your teeth is prepared, and then is individually fabricated into a piece of protective gear for a perfect fit. It's strong, lightweight and comfortable — which means you can wear it comfortably. Because, after all, if you don't wear it, it doesn't help.

Custom-made mouthguards are an indispensable piece of equipment — especially when they could save you the inconvenience (and potentially much higher cost) of restoring or replacing teeth. So if you're the active type, consider having a custom mouthguard made for you. It's the best way to prevent a dental injury from spoiling your game.

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